February 7, 2012

Four Colorado Non-Profits Working Together to Promote Early Detection, Research, Outreach and Support Services

The Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, the Cheryl Shackelford Foundation, the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Foundation and the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation have formed a new consortium – The Ovarian Cancer Task Force (OCTF).  Their goal is to save women’s lives by supporting the efforts of partner groups to raise awareness of ovarian cancer through education including the promotion of early detection, as well as research, outreach, support services and other means.

The new task force is part of the Colorado Cancer Coalition (CCC) and will be led by Guadalupe (Pep) Torres, Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) Executive Director.

Every 40 hours one woman in Colorado dies from ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in females in the United States but it is the deadliest gynecologic cancer.  The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,280 women in the United States will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2012 and that 15,500 women will die from the disease.

In their organization’s mission statement, each of the OCTF members stresses the importance of raising awareness.  They know that deaths can be prevented by greater recognition of ovarian cancer symptoms and earlier diagnosis.   If the disease is found in an early stage, up to 90 percent of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will survive for more than five years.  Unfortunately, over 80 percent of diagnosed cases are in stage III/IV, when the disease has already spread beyond the ovaries. 

There is no universally-accepted screening test for ovarian cancer – and the Pap test does not check for ovarian cancer – so being able to recognize the symptoms is critical to saving lives.  Symptoms of ovarian cancer include suddenly occurring and persistent bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary urgency or frequency.  However, the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and may not be specific or severe, so often women do not seek medical attention and health professionals fail to diagnose it early.

The Task Force is already discussing plans for an Ovarian Cancer Summit in September 2012.

The Ovarian Cancer Task Force Member Organizations:

The Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance

The mission of COCA is to promote awareness about ovarian cancer through advocacy, education and support.  COCA’s goals are to advocate for women with ovarian cancer, and for ovarian cancer awareness, through participation in activities at the local, state and national levels; to educate women, families, doctors and health care providers about early detection of ovarian cancer through Survivors Teaching Students™ and COCA Speakers Bureau; and to support survivors through offering ongoing Nicki’s Circle Ovarian Cancer Support Groups.   To learn more about COCA and its work, click here.

The Cheryl Shackelford Foundation

Cofounded by and named in honor of a 20-year survivor of ovarian cancer, CSF is committed to raising public awareness and educating women in the state of Colorado regarding the symptoms, risk factors and facts about ovarian cancer. CSF’s goals are to increase the rate of early detection of ovarian cancer and assist those women diagnosed with the disease in a supportive role.  To learn more about CSF and its work, click here.

Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Foundation

Sue DiNapoli, a resident of El Paso County, enjoyed a life filled with family, friends, volunteer work and fun. With a contagious laugh and a remarkable spirit, her upbeat attitude and determination helped her battle ovarian cancer for more than 5-1/2 years. Proceeds of the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Foundation help low income and under-insured women in the Pikes Peak area with screening and early detection of ovarian cancer. To learn more about the Foundation and its work, click here.

HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation:

The HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research, and Awareness.  As a nationally recognized ovarian cancer organization, HERA provides funding for cutting-edge research grants to scientists at respected medical institutions.  In so doing, HERA attracts more young researchers to expand the scientific understanding of ovarian cancer while improving the lives of those battling the disease.  In addition, HERA awards grants to local community groups to raise awareness about the disease in novel and unusual ways.  More information is available at www.herafoundation.org.


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