Thrive Newsletter

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April 18, 2017

Cookies for a cause: Eight-year-old girl organizes bake sale in honor of godmother 
Vaginal survivor shares her story of advocacy; seeks community of support
Take a closer look into PARP inhibitors for ovarian cancer patients 
Mark your calendar for Survivors Courses! 
FWC  past board chair honored for service 

Cookies for a cause: Eight-year-old girl organizes bake sale in honor of godmother

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Ellie Curtis, 8, raised $200 with a bake sale.

After hearing about her godmother’s diagnosis of uterine cancer, eight-year-old Ellie Curtis wanted to lend a helping hand.

Quickly the third grader researched nonprofit organizations that focused on uterine cancer and stumbled upon the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. With help from her mother, Jessica Curtis, Ellie decided to host a “traveling” bake sale with chocolate chip cookies, Oreo balls and brownies with all the proceeds to be donated to the FWC.

Ellie said she decided to host a bake sale fundraiser this February because she was, “a little hungry at the time.” In preparation for the bake sale, Ellie created a promotional flier, decided on the recipes and made the cookies with a little help from her mother. The mother and daughter duo delivered the goodies to family and friends who ordered from the flier. Her bake sale raised about $200 for the FWC.

The bake sale was also part of a project for Ellie’s gifted class at Lakeview Fundamental Elementary School in St. Petersburg, FL. Her teachers, Mrs. Joyce and Mrs. Griffin, asked students to think of something that will have a positive impact on the world and something they are passionate about.

Ellie is very passionate about the Foundation’s mission because it is so close to her heart. Her favorite part of the bake sale fundraiser was telling her godmother, Carol, about the money she raised for the sale.

“I want the Foundation to do as much research as possible to end women’s cancer,” Ellie said.

Next year, Ellie said she plans to host the bake sale again with her older brother and her mother. “I still want to help other people,” Ellie said. “I want to make sure that other people are healthy besides me.”

Vaginal cancer survivor shares her story of advocacy; seeks community of support

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Sarah Nielsen

After a vaginal cancer diagnosis two years ago, Sarah Nielsen is eager to raise awareness about gynecologic cancers and find fellow survivors like herself.

Nielsen, a Greensboro, NC resident, said she has never met a vaginal cancer survivor, but she is determined to find a community of support. Vaginal cancer is considered to be the rarest form of gynecologic cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 out 1,000 women develop vaginal cancer in their lifetime.

Nielsen’s journey with vaginal cancer began after a Pap test found pre-cervical cancer cells, which was followed by a hysterectomy to remove her uterus and cervix. Four years after the surgery, Nielsen, 38, started experiencing the signs of vaginal cancer, which typically include: unusual vaginal bleeding, pain, problems with urination or bowel movements, a watery vaginal discharge and/or a lump or mass in the vagina.

The Aftermath of Treatment

Nielsen’s personal mission now is to help other survivors through their cancer journey. When Nielsen was enduring the treatments and doctor appointments she described herself as feeling overwhelmed from her cancer treatments, her job, and taking care of her children. She said she “couldn’t even stop and think.”

Now living in the aftermath of treatment, Nielsen reflects on her experience and tries to find a community of support for other women.

“I want to make sure that cervical and vaginal cancer survivors are not alone,” she said. In her initial cancer journey, Nielsen said she was in control of everything. “I wish I had been more willing to accept help,” she said. Nielsen relied only on her husband and mother for support, but was unwilling to ask for help from outside her immediate family.

Yet, part of Nielsen’s unwillingness to ask for help stemmed from the shame of the connection between human papillamovirus (HPV) and vaginal cancer. Both cervical and vaginal cancers are associated with this sexually transmitted virus. After her treatment, she realized that the more women talk about the HPV connection with cancer, the more normalized the topic will become. For her, it is also important to raise awareness about vaccinating children against HPV to prevent these cancers.

Recently, she helped organize an event at High Point University in High Point, NC. She is teaches in the Human Relations department and she is an industrial organizational psychologist. The event called, “Blowouts and Manicures,” started a conversation about HPV vaccines and cervical cancer on her campus. The funds from the haircuts and manicures went to the local chapter of Relay for Life. For Nielsen, small advocacy events have the power to start important conversations.

“I don’t love to talk about my cancer journey, but it if helps other women go through it, then I will talk about vaginas and HPV all day,” she said.

For more information about vaginal cancers, go to the Foundation website. If you are a vaginal cancer survivor and want to share your story, feel free contact FWC at FWCinfo@sgo.org.

Take a closer look into PARP inhibitors for ovarian cancer patients

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Robert Coleman, MD, discusses PARP inhibitors

PARP inhibitors were a hot topic of discussion at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer March 12-15, 2017, in National Harbor, MD.

Ovarian cancer patients may have heard of the new class of drugs, but do you know what a PARP inhibitor is?

Robert Coleman, MD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, gives an in-depth definition of a PARP inhibitor in a video produced by the SGO.

FWC past board chair honored for service

David M. Gershenson

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Distinguished Service Award Winners

A past board chair of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer was recognized for outstanding service at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s 2017 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer March 12-15 in National Harbor, MD.

David M. Gershenson, MD, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center,  was acknowledged by the SGO this year with the Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who, over an extended period of time, display a continuous outstanding meritorious service in the field of gynecologic oncology. Dr. Gershenson expressed gratitude for the award.

“This award really is not about one or a few individuals, but rather about all of the men and women who have been instrumental in making a difference in the lives of so many young investigators and the women we serve,” he said.

Other recipients of the award are Clarence E. Ehrlich, MD, University of Indiana School of Medicine (posthumously) // Rodrigue Mortel, MD, Penn State College of Medicine // John R. van Nagell, MD, University of Kentucky Medical Center.

 

Mark your calendar for Survivors Courses!

Want to hear about the latest news in clinical trials, cancer-related fatigue and healthy eating options? Register for one of our two free upcoming survivor courses today! All survivors, loved ones and caretakers are welcome. A continental breakfast and lunch are included.

Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH
Register today!

Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course
Friday, May 5, 2017
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX
Register today!

The full 2017 Survivors Course list is available online.

Advocate Quote of the Month

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Spotlight

Elizabeth Young isn’t afraid to jump for a cause no matter how high. As a survivor of cervical cancer, Young empowers women through skydiving, running marathons and giving back to the cause. This year is no different with her second skydiving event Mother’s Day Weekend.

Awareness

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month.  After creating the month in 1999, the Foundation strives to bring attention about these cancers through public awareness campaigns.

Research

The Foundation is proud to offer various Research Grants and Awards. Click here for more information.

Education

FREE Gynecologic Cancer Survivors Courses throughout the country. For more information, click here.