THE BLOG

Ovarian Cancer Month: Looking Back and Ahead

10/01/2013 12:17 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

As I look back on the month of September, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I am humbled to have been in the company of so many warriors and caregivers in the fight against this devastating disease.

Since launching the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund (LMOCF) last year at this time, I am proud of all that we have accomplished in the past 12 months. The best part for me has been meeting the brave women -- the ovarian cancer survivors and those still fighting. Their strong spirits and personal stories hold important lessons for us all.

On Sept. 8, the LMOCF sponsored Ovarian Cancer Canada's Walk of Hope, and I had the honour of walking with my family in Toronto among ovarian cancer survivors, such as Krystal Dorion. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 23, at a time when she was planning to get married and attend graduate school. Like many women with the onset of the disease, she felt bloated, a key symptom of ovarian cancer, but thought it was due to poor diet and lack of exercise. She finally decided to go to a clinic, where a doctor found a 22 cm tumour. She was diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer, and her life profoundly changed. She underwent months of treatment, and cancelled the big wedding that she had planned.

Thankfully, Krystal is fine today. She has since gotten married to her fiancée -- they eloped in Trinidad -- and has even had two children of her own! Her story breaks through many myths about ovarian cancer, e.g., it only strikes "older" women. The fact is that it can strike a woman at any age. Her story is also one of hope. She fought the disease and won. Today, Krystal is a passionate advocate for ovarian cancer awareness. As more voices like hers join together to share their stories of prevention and hope, we will save more women's lives.

I also had the honour of being a part of a lecture series held by Memorial Cancer Institute in Florida, where my late sister Laura was treated for the disease. Unlike Krystal's story, by the time Laura was diagnosed, the disease was already at a late stage; and she succumbed just two years later, at the age of 39. I can't help but think -- had my sister been able to attend a lecture series, or hear a story like Krystal's prior to her diagnosis -- perhaps her outcome would have been different. Before Laura died, she asked me to promise to help other women learn about this disease, so that they may have the fighting chance that she was not granted.

In her memory, we established the Laura Lia Murray Fund for Ovarian Cancer at Memorial Cancer Institute and LMOCF is a proud sponsor of Laura's Fund. Together, we support research and clinical trial programs, as well as educational initiatives.

It was incredibly moving to speak to a room of women who are currently battling the disease and dealing with the realities of available treatment protocols -- fighting and hoping. Feeling their strong spirits has touched my soul.

Looking back on September, I am even more determined to share messages of prevention and hope, while we forge ahead to raise funds for better diagnostic tools and treatments.

I am sure Laura would be pleased to know that we are keeping our promise to help more women fight this battle -- and win.

Please join us. We need your voices, your stories, and your support. To learn more about how you can get involved visit: www.LMOCF.org.

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