Jodi's Race for Awareness About Ovarian Cancer Set for Saturday, June 1 in Denver's City Park
DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - May 14, 2013) - It is said that we learn something new every day.
On June 5, 2010, Joyce Swanson learned something that probably saved her life. While participating in the inaugural event that had just been named Jodi's Race for Awareness, Swanson read the various posters listing the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Swanson -- a wife, mother of two and active runner -- was not thinking of herself that day when she joined hundreds of others to promote awareness of ovarian cancer. Each of her daughters -- Lindsay Abrams, a teacher, and Laura Swanson, a nurse -- had a personal connection to someone directly impacted by the disease. For Lindsay it was her first-grade student Meghan, whose mother Jodi Brammeier was the driving force and inspiration for the race. And Laura's best friend from college had lost her mother to ovarian cancer. So when Lindsay asked her mom to participate she did not hesitate.
Just over a year later, in August 2011, Swanson started feeling bloated, which is one of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. "I had a physical scheduled in September," she recalls, "so I talked to my primary care physician and she sent me to a specialist. Thank goodness my oncologist was so on top of it!" On October 12, after an MRI indicated a tumor and a biopsy confirmed it was malignant, Swanson underwent surgery for Stage 3 ovarian cancer. In addition to the six months of chemotherapy that followed, Swanson was recruited to take part in a study of Avastin, a drug that slows the growth of new blood vessels and is used primarily in the treatment of colorectal and lung cancers.
"I was hesitant at first," Swanson admits, but after doing some research she decided to add the drug to her treatment schedule, which included weekly chemotherapy and Avastin every 21 days. Although she completed chemo in March 2012, Swanson continues to be treated with Avastin and undergoes a scan every three months.
"I attribute that race to saving my life. For some reason those signs just stayed in my head," says Swanson, who has participated annually in Jodi's Race for Awareness. After her diagnosis and treatment for ovarian cancer, her husband Dave, their two daughters and many of the family's friends joined together for the 2012 fundraiser. "I live in a wonderful neighborhood," Swanson says of the 30-person team that came out to support her and "raised a lot of money" for the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA). All funds collected remain in Colorado and are used for COCA programs, including Nicki's Circle support groups, the COCA Cares financial assistance program, comfort kits for the newly diagnosed, Survivors Teaching Students®(a national program of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) presented to medical students), and various campaigns to raise awareness.
On Saturday, June 1, 2013, Swanson will return to Denver's City Park for the Fourth Annual Jodi's Race for Awareness. Also on hand that day will be hundreds of runners and walkers -- some ovarian cancer survivors, others supporting family or friends battling the disease, and those participating in memory of loved ones lost to the disease. Each of them will be helping COCA to fulfill its mission: to support women in Colorado dealing with ovarian cancer, and to promote increased awareness about ovarian cancer through advocacy and education. The presenting sponsor for this year's race is Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Many other businesses are also supporting the race this year including Hein & Associates, which is the Teal Ribbon sponsor, and I-Behavior, the race bib sponsor. To learn more about Jodi's Race visit http://www.jodisrace.com/.
Swanson admits she was surprised when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "I thought 'how could I have cancer?' I ate healthy, I worked out." She even was tested to see if there was a hereditary link. "It's not in my genes," she reports.
In addition to participating in COCA's annual fundraiser, Swanson has helped to generate awareness about ovarian cancer as a volunteer for the 9 Health Fairs. "People need to make an effort to be educated," she says. "If you feel any change in your body, act on it. You have to be your own advocate."
This year the wife and mother will be walking rather than running during the Race for Awareness, however the new grandmother of twin girls will have plenty of reasons to smile.
To learn more about COCA and its programs, visit www.colo-ovariancancer.org.
Gerri Gomez Howard