Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all of the gynecological cancers.
It is estimated that more than 20,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and 15,000 will likely not survive the first 5 years.
However, when diagnosed at Stage 1, ovarian cancer is 90-percent curable.
The OCAO, or the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio, was founded to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms among women, which the group hopes results in earlier detection and improved outcomes.
OCAO President Chris Gillespie is keenly aware of the necessity for education and understanding. His younger sister was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer at 26 and lost her battle at 31.
Gillespie continues to see connections between his sister's experience and other women affected by ovarian cancer, and this is his core motivation in fighting for the cause.
"I see her face at each event we stage and think about what all of the women touched by this disease go through," he said. "When they share their stories, hopes and dreams with me or their laughter and tears, I want to fight that much harder for the women this disease has not touched. They are all warriors and my heroes."
The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio recognizes September as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and will be hosting a variety of events in effort to spread awareness.
One way to get actively involved, as well as spend some time outdoors, is to participate in the Strides for Hope 5k Walk/Run on September 27th at the Westerville Community Center. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. The run will kick off at 9 a.m., with walkers beginning at 9:15 a.m. Cost is $30 for adults, $20 for survivors, and $15 for those 17 and younger.
"Whether you are there for the fun and feeling of celebration the event creates or because you have been touched by ovarian cancer, you are welcome," Gillespie said. "And that is true of all of our events."
Proceeds benefit education and awareness programs, and outreach programs for families and survivors.
"Our board and staff are volunteers," Gillespie said. "I think that is something all of us are proud of: Every dollar raised is going to programming and education."
For more information, visit www.ovariancanceroh.org.