For the First time the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) was held at US Cellular Field. The traditional grey and black of U.S. Cellular Field was covered in teal on Saturday, May 4, when the Illinois Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) held its 16th Annual Walk/Run. Country music star Derek Anthony, Chicago ABC-7’s Stacey Baca and Clear Channel’s Robin Rock were among the more than 3,000 supporters who raised close to $400,000 for cancer awareness and research.
In addition to this being the first year NOCC held its annual walk at US Cellular Field, it was another first in that a 5k run was added this year. “We felt a run was a good fit for our supporters, and we thought it would bring in new people,” said NOCC IL Chapter Coordinator Karen Young. “We were right. We had a number of new faces join us this year!”
One of those faces was Derek Anthony, who lost his aunt to ovarian cancer six years ago. Derek has become a tireless supporter of ovarian cancer awareness, and is now traveling to walks like this around the country, performing at each one. “Ovarian Cancer is more than a woman’s disease,” he said. “We all need to know the signs and symptoms.”
ABC 7’s Stacey Baca also attended with her sister, Lynn Baca, an ovarian cancer survivor. “We are so happy to be here, and I am so happy Lynn is here!,” Stacey said. “Too many people don’t know about this disease. We need to keep spreading the word!”
This year, approximately 20,000 women will be diagnosed, and 15,000 women will lose their lives to ovarian cancer. The disease affects approximately 1 in every 70 women. There is no test for ovarian cancer: the PAP test does not test for the disease. Women with breast cancer can be at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
“Early diagnosis can mean a 90 percent chance of a cure,” said NOCC Board of Directors President Liz Cory, an eight-year survivor. “The signs and symptoms are common: bloating, constipation, fatigue, back pain. Because these symptoms are so common, many women ignore them until the disease is well advanced. Remember, if you experience these symptoms, see a doctor right away. It saved my life, and it could save yours.”
In addition to the three-mile walk and 5k run, the day included a group photo of the more than 160 survivors attending. Survivors were also honored with teal hats, lovingly hand-knitted by volunteers with the Teal Hat Project.
“This year, we saw spin-off events, which shows support to women throughout the state,” said Sandra Cord, NOCC IL Chapter Coordinator. Survivor Doris Kaiser could not make the walk this year, so her team took the walk to her home in tiny Alexander, IL (population 200), where they marched through the town and raised more than $4,000.
NOCC CEO David Barley said the event continues to grow. “NOCC was founded in 1995 by passionate women and their families in response to the need for better information and more public knowledge about ovarian cancer,” he said. “Nearly 20 years later, we are making an even greater impact. Men, women and children are all affected by this disease. By sharing the signs and symptoms, we hope to see more early diagnoses.”
Sponsors of the event included Sam’s Club, Wendella Boat Tours and the MSB Fund.
The awareness continues May 21 through June 23, when 10 percent of all proceeds of “Harry’s Halfway House” will be donated to the NOCC by the Rebekah Theatre Project. Paul Tinsley, founder, named the theater company in honor of his late daughter, Rebekah Nicole Tinsley Klein, who did not survive ovarian cancer. Performances of “Harry’s Halfway House” will be held at the City Lit Theater Company, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago.
In September, NOCC plans to once again turn the Chicago skyline teal when buildings throughout the Loop are lit in teal lights to promote awareness. The “Teal Lights Celebration and Fundraiser” awareness event will be held Friday, September 20, at Venue One, 1044 W. Randolph Street, Chicago.
For more information, go to www.ovarian.org, or call the NOCC IL Office at 312 226 9410.
Photos: B. Keer and * Photos contributed by Liz Cory
Editor's Note: I participated in the 2013 NOCC Walk/Run in memory of my mother. This was the second year I did the walk. I was impressed with the organization, the numbers and the dedication of all participants. When my family lost our mother, we thought her situation terrible and unique (see her story) but now we understand it is just like so many other terrible stories. It is our hope that with all that NOCC is doing in terms of education and research funding that the numbers of victims will be reduced and eliminated.