Walk of Hope supports Ovarian Cancer Canada

Past Walk of Hope participants (pre-COVID). Image via Ovarian Cancer Canada.

The 2021 Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope takes place this Sunday, Sept. 12. The fundraiser aims to assist and support women with ovarian cancer and all women at risk of the disease to live fuller, better, longer lives.

The walk will be virtual again this year, and Ovarian Cancer Canada (OCC) said that the safety of all is of utmost importance. Registrations are still being accepted and participants can walk a route of their choice to show support for this important cause. Rather than the usual Kingston region group event, the organization is encouraging individual and bubble-team participation. For those that wish to do so, the small Kingston Walk of Hope (WOH) Committee will be at Lake Ontario Park from 10:30 – 1:30 on walk day to cheer on participants.

Ovarian Cancer Canada is the only national group advocating on behalf of women who suffer and survive ovarian cancer in Canada, according to a release from the organization. Its support of research has provided important progress in the treatment and quality-of-life of these women.

The statistics surrounding ovarian cancer are alarming, and ovarian cancer remains a deadly disease affecting women of all ages. One out of every two Canadian women diagnosed won’t live to see another five years, and survival rates have not significantly improved in 50 years, OCC said in the release.

There is no conclusive diagnostic test for Ovarian Cancer. Often called “the disease that whispers,” the symptoms, “vague female complaints,” are often not accurately diagnosed at their outset, the OCC said. These symptoms (such as unusual bowel activities, appetite loss and getting full quickly, and abdominal bloating & discomfort) which last longer than three weeks should be brought to the attention of a health care practitioner. As with all cancers, the earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the more successful the outcome.

Local cancer survivor Rosemarie (McAllister) Thorne from Sydenham shared her story and the importance of self-advocacy when dealing with ovarian, or any other, cancer. “We need research funding to develop early testing tools, treatment methods and programs to better the lives of women living with this cancer,” she said.

Her Stage 3C diagnosis at age 62 was a complete surprise. “My diagnosis shocked myself and my family because l had a normal vaginal ultrasound two years prior,” Thorne said, explaining that many symptoms of ovarian cancer, such as bloating, bladder irregularities, bowel issues, and “feeling blah with unexplained fatigue” are vague and common to many other ailments.

“This often leaves ovarian cancer as a last consideration,” she continued. “This is why l continue to participate in Kingston’s ‘Walk of Hope.’ For me, to walk with my family, friends, and women that belong to ‘The Sisterhood of Teal’ to raise much-needed funds for Ovarian Cancer Canada, is empowering.”

Three and a half years after Thorne’s initial treatment she is NED (no evident disease.) “There is an unease and worry that never leaves me and my family as l go through routine CT scans, blood and other tests, and checkups with my oncologist,” she shared, noting that most cancer patients experience this apprehension.

According to Thorne, self-advocacy is a very important step toward the early detection of all cancers, “but it is especially true of ovarian cancer,” she said. “Research funds are needed to develop early detections tools and support women as they fight the good fight against this disease.”

Rosemary Thorne, Ovarian Cancer survivor. Image via OCC.

Among other initiatives, the Kingston chapter of OCC provides educational presentations to community groups, as well as staffing awareness/educational displays at every opportunity, according to the release. OCC also endorses the local/regional Support Group, the “Ovation Circle”; and a Family/Caregivers support group.

Founded in 2002, the OCC Walk of Hope is the largest and most powerful annual event of its kind in Canada, the organization said. It is the only Canadian fundraiser which directs all attention and funds towards assisting and supporting women with ovarian cancer and all women at risk of the disease to live fuller, better, longer lives. Kingston has been a site for the annual Walk of Hope since its early years, amongst 35 cities in Canada who continue to walk together. The OCC said that for its size, the Kingston community has proven itself to be a generous donor to this cause.

The OCC concluded, “The Walk will certainly look different as we restrict ourselves to our own spaces, gathering our teams in unique and safe ways, but still remaining connected by our single goal — we walk because women with ovarian cancer deserve better.”

Learn more and register to walk at: www.ovariancancerwalkofhope.ca

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