Notorious O.V.A.R.Y. in Action

September has great energy. A new academic year begins, the seasons start to change, and one of my favorite annual events takes place- the Silent No More 5k to benefit the Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

I am pleased to share that with the support of family, friends, and friends of friends, team Notorious O.V.A.R.Y. raised $2890 (exceeding my goal of $2000). As a whole, this event raised over $32,000 with donations still rolling in!

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I’ll chat more about the walk in a minute. For as many times as I’ve had to write about being in the hospital, needles, pills, NG tubes, and general unpleasantness, it’s important to highlight when life is just normal. That includes visits with friends, good meals, professional growth…pretty much any moment that is not spent clinging to life on my couch. So weekend recap- commence!

The weekend began with a visit from two of my childhood best friends, Stacey and Michelle. Our time together was filled with good food, a carnival on the beach, hot tubbing in the back yard, and several moments where I laughed so hard that I almost cried.

At the carnival we may or may not have shamelessly ridden a kiddie coaster and the “bear affair”. I’m guessing three 28 year olds are not the target demographic for these rides but hey, if we fits, we sits.

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Living in three different states and starting the majority of my weekends with chemo makes it difficult for the three of us to be together at the same time very often. That said, my heart was very full this weekend with these goons.

In the midst of their visit I did have to work on Saturday to facilitate a training for the MyPath mentors. The mentors are (mostly) juniors and seniors that serve as resources for students that are exploratory. Exploratory meaning, undecided about a major/career path, questioning their path, etc. It’s a fantastic program made better by these incredibly motivated student leaders. Despite falling on an already busy weekend and me running it for the first time I was very pleased. The mentors blew me away with their insight, discussion, and willingness to share their personal experiences. I’m looking forward to the upcoming year with this program.

My ability to be at this training without stressing over leaving my transportation-less guests home was made possible by Cory continuing to be the best human. He cleaned, made sure Michelle was caffeinated (super important), and picked up Stacey at the train station without complaint. What a gem, right?

Our weekend wrapped up with the Silent No More 5k to benefit Rhode Island women touched by ovarian cancer. To give you a little background on the name of the walk, one of the most grim nicknames of this disease is “the silent killer” because it’s symptoms (bloating, feeling full quickly, GI issues) can mirror a massive number of other, more minor, ailments. That said, many women are not diagnosed until later stages when the disease has spread from the ovary to other parts of the body. Being “silent no more” flips the script on that ugly nickname because as a small cancer community we are educating women on how to listen to their bodies and spreading the word. The more preventative we can be, the more women will thrive in the face of this disease.

Speaking of thriving, there were FORTY survivors at the walk this year. That is incredible. That means forty women that are either still kicking some OC keister or in remission. That is forty more women that are defying the odds, blowing up the statistics, and truly thriving.

It was nice to see familiar faces from previous years and exchange big hugs. The Rhode Island OC community is truly full of kind and remarkable people. I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone, but I’m glad that it brought us together. (Shout out fellow cancer crusher, Dorinda for my new favorite bracelet!)

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I was lucky to round up a great team to come together as Notorious O.V.A.R.Y. (team name credit to Sarah Breen). Thank you Mom, Dad (Peepaw), Cory, Stacey, Michelle, Sarah, Zack, Kerri, Monica, Robin, Becca, Maddie, Joseph, Austen, and Ginger for waking up early, going full on teal, and braving the humidity for this cause. It meant the world to have you there.

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Congrats to Donna Ricci (President), John Morris (Vice President), and the rest of the RIOCA board members on another successful year. So many bear hugs, so little time! Jessie was most definitely proudly smiling down on you today through the sunshine.

Before I wrap up, I have a minor health update but it’s nothing exciting. One of the small incisions from the port placement wasn’t healing quite right and became infected so I completed one course of antibiotics. Unfortunately it still isn’t better so they have extended antibiotics for another two full weeks. So far they aren’t wreaking havoc on my life like the mega-antibiotics I had to take over the summer. On Friday, they drew blood cultures from my port just to rule out another infection in the port but they’re pretty sure that the infection is superficial.

CA-125 will be drawn this week, I see Dr. Robison for a check up on Thursday, “big” chemo on Friday. I’m not banking on a great CA-125 considering this infection business but here’s to hopin’.

Now that I have survived and chronicled such an eventful weekend, I’m going to plop down on the sofa, watch the Packers (hopefully) crush the Vikings (sorry Larz Barz), and restore my energy for work tomorrow.

 

 

 

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THANK-YOU

After working on this blog for the vast majority of the time I have had cancer I have documented dismal, hopeful, and the mundane days alike. If nothing else, this particular post is meant to express the pure joy and gratitude I have in reflection of this past weekend’s activities: The Izzy Gala and the 2015 NOCC Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer.

The entire weekend was tied to cancer in some way, shape or form, yet none of it was dark or dismal. It screamed community and comfort.

I had been looking forward to this weekend for weeks now and it delivered in every way. In light of finding out that my CA-125 had decreased a smidgen from 777 to 742 I was already elated going into the weekend. I just needed one little decrease to reinvigorate me and damnnit I got it!

Here is a reenactment of what I felt  just in case the 600 gif’s from the last post weren’t enough to express myself:

Even with a Taxol and Avastin infusion on Friday, nothing was going to kill my vibe.

The 4th Annual Izzy Gala:

Many of you know that an organization that is very special to me is The Izzy Foundation. It is special for a number of reasons but mainly because it operates in memory of Dr. Tina Robison’s daughter Isabelle, who “earned her angel wings” at 3 years old after battling Stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma. In spite of Izzy leaving the physical world far too soon, the Izzy Foundation has grown to support other children facing debilitating illness and their families.

One of the highlights of the gala is when they award scholarships to children with illness, child survivors and their siblings! This year $21,000 in scholarships were awarded to amazing young people from coast to coast. Many of them were able to attend the gala and be honored in person.

The night consisted of a live and silent auction, dinner, and dancing. It certainly is not a stuffy event. It is “purple tie” which means black tie “with an Izzy twist” so everyone is draped in purple, her favorite color.

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(oh and yes, ever the gentleman, my handsome date brought me purple flowers to highlight the occasion)

When I walked into the ballroom that night the first person I spotted was Dr. Robison and her husband Kyle. She looked stunning per usual. I swear she must have made some sort of deal with Ursula the sea witch to look THAT good all the time AND be an amazing gyn oncologist AND run a baller non-profit.

Dr. Robison caught my eye and ran right over to Cory and I greeting us with giant hugs. She was genuinely happy to see us and as always, I was just as happy to see her. She mentioned her excitement over the lowered CA-125 then said: “You will always be my guest at the Izzy Gala and there will be many, many, more Izzy Gala’s in your future.” It was sweet and reassuring as if to suggest: “We’re in this together and I’ve got your back”.

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(^I wish this came out a tad more clearly. I snuck this shot right before Tina and Kyle went on stage to make their speeches. Just a sweet little moment between husband and wife)

Overall it was a beautiful night. It’s always great to have an excuse to throw on a gown and get dolled up.

Shout out to Danielle at Ky Michaels Salon for doing such a faboosh job on my make up! She really nailed my only instructions: “glammed up but not drag queen”.

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Giant thank-you to Cory for getting dressed up with me and making sure that it was the most beautiful evening. I couldn’t ask for a better boyfriend.

Oh you thought the weekend ended there? OH no. Sunday was just as great.

The 2015 NOCC Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer:

After I had recurred at the end of 2013, I was feeling a whole mess of emotions. Partially I was desperately seeking out community from others that could relate to my challenges. The other part was a desire to “pay it forward” for all of the care and support I had received to that point. That is really when I discovered the RI chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

Since stumbling across this organization I’ve raised money for them on three separate occasions. I find comfort in knowing that this money is going toward research efforts, education, and support for women and families facing OC. Beyond the actual function of the RI NOCC, I found a group of people with such heart. President of the RI chapter, Donna Ricci, as well as the Morris and O’Donnell families have not only made me feel part of something greater than myself, but also truly loved and encouraged as I have gone through treatment. Whenever I see any one of them, I am made to feel like part of their family.

As a result of participating in the NOCC walk two years consecutively, I have also had the pleasure of meeting other OC cancer crushers. This year one of my favorite new faces was Dorinda, one of Sheila’s favorites. She was stunning and sweet. It was no surprise to me why Sheila adores her.

Last year as the survivors lined up to be recognized on stage I had the great fortune of meeting Judy, a woman TWELVE years cancer free and her daughter Marybeth. They were probably the nicest people I’ve ever met so naturally when we saw each other this year it was a giant love fest. (Judy- Next year I am mandating that you wear a tutu. Don’t make me pull the cancer card on this one!).

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Aside from other survivors it was nice to see my girl Sheila amongst other friendly faces from the infusion center. They are always a ray of sunshine. Plus what screams dedication to the job more than using your day off to STILL support your patients?

Now onto my DREAM team: Teal All Your Friends…

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(^ Missing Monica, Kerri, and Diane here 😦 )

Collectively my team raised $4215! We actually ranked third for team donations behind #1 Dorinda’s Diva’s (wooo!) and #2 BankRI. Not too shabby! We couldn’t have done it without your love and genorosity. If you donated, shared the donation page or simply sent me a few words of encouragement, THANK-YOU! Perhaps your donations will lead to a revolutionary treatment or an early detection tool. The possibilities are endless but exist because you cared.

Shout outs to this year’s team: Cory Tysoe, Stacey Goldman, Michelle Fabiaschi, Sarah Breen, Emily Nason, Matt Weese, Monica Houde, Kerri Forbes, Diane Ruotolo, Johanna Fleisher, Kelly Blessing, Mrs. Blessing,  Eileen “Killer” McKinney, Charles “The King” Ransom, Anne “Rockin” Ransom, & our furry mascots Austen and Brick (oh and Brian Eastman even though he ditched us to oogle Tom Brady at Gillette).

To the team- your energy, enthusiasm, and endless supply of humor made this walk beyond special and memorable.

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‘Twas a great day to celebrate with great people and honor equally great people that have left us after their fight with OC.

In reflection of a weekend full of light and positivity, it’s hard to believe that the reason everyone had come together for each event was because of cancer. Cancer so frequently brings about distress and heartache, fear, turmoil- but for one weekend we could laugh in the face of disease and lift each other up in the name of community.

Cheers to everyone near and far that played a role in making this weekend one for the books.

Shop for Ovarian Cancer Awareness!

TEAL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! Support the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) by participating in a fundraiser I am hosting on February 5th from 7-9pm EST at Alex and Ani! Conveniently right before Valentines day 😉 Pick up a little something for your loved ones and support women’s health! 

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I would love to see every one of your smiling faces at this event but if you cannot make it, you can still help us!:

1.) Browse a beautiful selection of jewelry at: www.alexandani.com and make your selection

(Please note: the NOCC will NOT receive 15% proceeds on any discounted items or items from the Charity by Design collection)

 

2.) Call: 401-919-5467, the location of our fundraiser between 7-9pm EST and an Alex And Ani representative will take your order. Please tell the store representative that you are calling in support of

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition fundraiser! Your order will be mailed to you!

I look forward to seeing you there!