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HAPPY HATTERS PERSONAL STORIES
IN LOVING MEMORY OF NANCI SARGENT

 
© NANCI SARGENT WITH HER BROTHER JIM

Welcome Happy Hatters!

These hats are meant to represent strength, courage, hope, wisdom, and love for all those affected by cancer. With it's sparkles and glitter it often gets a lot of attention that opens the door to conversations about ovarian cancer. Other times, the hat just strikes up a friendly chat that results in meeting new people that give you that extra smile. Each and every woman has their own unique style and beauty. Please remember to try to embrace each day, stay brave, stand tall, and remain strong. We thank you for all that you are and all that you do. To all the survivors, caretakers, doctors, friends, and family...our hats are off to you!

Love and hugs,
Nanci

Our wonderful Nanci Sargent lost her battle with ovarian cancer. We will miss Nanci tremendously and continue to celebrate her incredible legacy. Nanci introduced Happy Hatters and the note above explains what it meant to her. We invite you to celebrate with us by visiting Nanci's Awareness Tent on event morning, picking up your Happy Hatters hat, and continuing to spread Nanci's message.

We'd love to hear your story. Tell us why you participate in run for her. Your thoughts and words inspire others. Please submit your stories to runforher@cshs.org


Rhonda's Story

My mom had a hysterectomy in her fifties with the removal of one of her ovaries due to a large benign cyst on that ovary. Her doctor left her other ovary to help her get through menopause. He told her she had no need for yearly exams since she didn?t have her uterus.

In 2005 my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Her ovary had developed into a tumor so large, it had grown into her colon, and she had small spots of cancer on her liver and spleen. After a 6 hour surgery and 6 months of chemotherapy she had a 2 year remission. In April of 2007 the cancer returned to her liver and spleen; she battled this cancer again.

Once my mom was diagnosed, a strong family history of this cancer was revealed. Her grandmother, great-grandmother and her aunt died from ovarian cancer. In 2008 my mom?s first cousin was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer; sadly she has lost her battle. Because of our family history, my mom?s doctor highly recommended my sister and I remove our ovaries.

At the time I was 39 and after researching what can happen to your body from surgical menopause, I was not ready to take such a drastic approach to prevent a cancer I may not get. In addition, I was nervous about hormone replacement therapy after studies linking some HRT to breast cancer. My gynecologist at the time felt I was too young to remove my ovaries, but he was nervous about my family history. He felt the possible risk of breast cancer was much easier to detect unlike the lack of detection and severity of ovarian cancer. After 2 years of struggling with my decision, and the return of my mom?s cancer, I made the decision to have a complete hysterectomy.

Why run for her is so important.

My mom and I met Nanci & Mike Sargent when we attended an ovarian cancer walk. We instantly bonded with both of them. Nanci was such an encouragement for my mom who was very scared and depressed about her recent diagnosis. Nanci told us about her daughter Kelli who was trying to start a run/walk called ?run for her?. Since then, I have been on the run for her committee; I am now more knowledgeable about this cancer and feel a strong need to share this knowledge as it can help save lives.

Ovarian cancer is where breast cancer was thirty years ago before mammography. Currently there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer and is usually diagnosed in the third or fourth stage of the disease, thus making it harder to beat. For now, the best defense for detecting this cancer in the early stages - is awareness. Ovarian cancer whispers so women need to listen.

Unfortunately, most women are not aware of the signs and symptoms and when they do present, women take them for granted (i.e. weight gain, sore back, irritable bowels). Even more unfortunate, some doctors are overlooking these symptoms daily and at the advice of insurance carriers, they are telling their patients if they get a normal pap smear, then they do not need to be checked again for 2 or 3 years. PAP SMEARS DO NOT DETECT OVARIAN CANCER. The pelvic exam along with a rectal exam is the only way to tell if the ovaries are developing a cyst that could possibly become a cancerous tumor. If a cyst is found during a pelvic exam, then an abdominal ultrasound and transvaginal ultrasound needs to be done.

Thanks to the Breast Cancer Awareness Programs, doctors advocate the importance of monthly self breast exams and yearly mammograms to their patients. Why then are some doctors telling their patients to wait 2 or 3 years to have their reproductive organs examined? We cannot do self exams on our female reproductive organs!! We need women, doctors, and insurance companies to understand that today in the United States 250,000 women will be diagnosed with some type of gynecological cancer; 27 percent will die from these cancers. If women take the advice of their doctors and wait 2 or 3 years to be examined, the 27 percent statistic will drastically increase.

Last year my mom lost her battle to ovarian cancer. Maybe, if the doctor who told my mom she didn?t need yearly exams anymore, or if my mom, our family or if I were more educated about ovarian cancer, her cancer might have been caught in the early stages and she would probably still be with us today.

Know your body, know the symptoms and NEVER skip a yearly pelvic exam!

Justin's Story

My mom (Kris Horner) was diagnosed with stage 4 Ovarian Cancer in September of 2007. She wasn't diagnosed until her breathing difficulties and general weakness (thought to be bronchitis, whooping cough, etc.) became so bad that she went to the ER. It was found that one her lungs was compressed by a few liters of blood, that ultimately was caused by the ovarian cancer. She initially went through a hysterectomy and chemo. After this, she had about a 6 month cancer free period, but since it has come back, she has been doing chemotherapy consistently. In 2009, I had started to look into running races, and just happened to see a Run for Her add. I signed up that day. For the 2009 event, I ran while my wife walked with my mom (still going through chemo). For 2010, we got a bigger team together, "Running for Kris" and my mom was looking forward to walking again in spite of still going through chemo. Unfortunately, the week before the event, my mom was hospitalized for abdominal pain and an infection. The rest of our team still made it to the event to complete it in her honor. She was cheering from her hospital bed as we sent photos and updates. I was fortunate enough to better my time from the previous year and finish 3rd in my age group. She enjoyed being presented with a medal that was won in her honor along with a team t-shirt. It was later found out that her abdominal pain was caused by a large number of ovarian cancer tumors in her abdomen and on her intestines. She will be changing her chemotherapy to combat these and vows to fight on. The courage I have watched her display, her positive attitude towards life, and willingness to support others through a support network, has redefined the definition of strong for me. Our team will be back next year participating in her honor, it's the least we can do. We also participate in honor of my wife's cousin, Sandra Holguin, who passed away in October of 2009 from ovarian cancer. Her sister and parents joined our team as we are all close, and Kris and Sandra obviously shared a special bond. Justin Horner

Deborah's Story

I walked this year because last year I sat on a chair during the event. I sat because I was in the middle of chemotherapy for stage IIIc ovarian cancer. This year I walked; would have run but my friends and family wouldn't have been able to keep up with me! From the bottom of my heart, I thank my amazing doctors, Andrew Li & Philomena McAndrew, along with the most incredible nurses, family & friends who support me through this journey. The money and awareness that is raised will keep me alive for a very long time. For that I am forever grateful! I can't wait until 2011 run for her......we are putting together the biggest team ever and hope to raise even more money to support Cedar-Sinai's important research!
Deborah Snyder Warshauer

Frank's Story

Couldn't keep me away. I ran with my daughter and niece last year, my niece and son this year. We lost my sister, my niece's mom, to inflammatory breast cancer six years ago. We run on Brandi Brethour's team, BB's Posse, as Brandi is a good friend of my niece. Brandi is in her second year beyond chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, and is a Cedar's patient. So, lots of reasons - it's been an event for family togetherness, an event to honor and remember my sister, and to support and honor a friend. And, if I read your name correctly, to honor your mother. Each step is a step in the right direction. Take care, Frank.

Victoria's Story

i ran, jogged, walked today because i come from brca-family. i ran jogged walked today because i could. i ran jogged walked today because september 9, 2001 we said the lord's prayer before my mom's surgery for stage 3 ovarian cancer and she is still here. i ran, jogged, walked today because breaking my toe 3 weeks ago couldn't stop me. i ran, jogged, walked today because dr. beth karlan removed my ovaries august 6, 2010 and i wanted to honor her and the work that she does on behalf of all women and families like mine. i ran, jogged, walked today because i am a breast cancer survivor and i feel united with all of my brothers and sisters that are fighting the good fight. i ran, jogged, walked today because a friend's mom just finished chemo for ovarian cancer and i saw her mother valiantly pushing her wheelchair, standing upright and i can only imagine how much courage it took to do that today. victoria. vickie. v.e.m.

Sally's Story

Hi there, I had the pleasure of running in the Run for Her 5k on Sunday. My family and I drove up from San Diego (Carlsbad, Ca) that morning and we left shortly after I finished so I didn't see the results until now. I was shocked to see that I placed in my division (age 35-39) and was wondering if that meant I earned a medal...I was just curious so I can brag to my husband :) What a great experience it was for my family and I. My mom and sister both had Ovarian Cancer so this cause holds a special place in my heart. It will become a tradition for me and my entire support team for the years to come. Thank You, Sally Waite






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