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30 Years of TEAL – Stories of Inspiration Spotlights – Julie Salazar

By December 19, 2021No Comments

Team TEAL athlete, NOCC Long Island member, and passionate advocate Julie shared her ovarian cancer journey with us in her original blog post in 2020. The NOCC was excited to catch up with Julie for our 30 Years of TEAL Stories of Inspiration Spotlight and hear about another goal she has accomplished – completing the Empire State Ride for Team TEAL!

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC): How has your health been since completing your treatment in 2020?

Julie Salazar (JS): Since my bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and hysterectomy, my physical health hasn’t been this strong since I was in my 20’s. It’s a crazy thing when cancer is removed from your body. The disease affects so many of your physiological systems that once it’s gone, your body operates as it should. For me, it operates at a level that provides me unlimited energy and vitality. 

NOCC: Since completing your treatment, have you benefitted from any support or quality of life programs?

JS: Most definitely. The Long Island Chapter of the NOCC has been such a big help, and Team Teal. I needed emotional support in 2021 as I re-entered my life as a survivor. I had no idea that I would be a different person coming out of cancer, and in return, other people would treat me differently. Having online group support meetings with women on the other side of NYS was amazing and just what I needed. I live in such a remote area of NYS; I would have been alone going through my 1st year of survivorship. Seeing my Teal Sisters online every month is exactly what I needed to emerge as a stronger woman coming out of my cancer treatments and surgery in 2020.

NOCC: What advice do you have for someone who has been newly diagnosed?

JS: Research wisely and listen to your intuition in choosing the oncologist you want to take care of you. Manage your internet searches, or you will go down into the abyss of the internet about your subtype of ovarian cancer and start digging your grave. It’s hard not to research your disease, but try and stay off the internet. If you find the right oncologist to take care of you, the office will have great resources for you as well as a robust web portal where every question that pops into your head will be answered within one hour. Finally, just Breathe. Take deep breaths. Meditate. 

NOCC: You mentioned in your original blog post that you’ve “become an advocate for women to document new gynecological symptoms and events.” Can you share any updates in this area?

JS: I’m a freelance writer for https://advancedovariancancer.net/author/juliesalazar. I was hired in March 2021 to write articles on chemo, surgery, side effects, and sharing info about the NOCC. I also share my story and GYN advocacy for women on Facebook. I do FB lives and spread the word about the NOCC any chance I get.

NOCC: Utilizing your passion for athletics, you recently completed the Empire State Ride! How was your experience riding for Team TEAL and raising ovarian cancer awareness?

JS: During the Empire State Bike Ride, I got asked every day I wore the Team Teal jersey what the NOCC stands for and why I was wearing the jersey. I was able to educate women every day while I rode my bike. It was amazing. The bike tour was seven days long, and there were over 230 riders. It was a lot of exposure and a lot of great one-on-one conversations. I loved it. It was bittersweet when someone walked up to me, telling me how inspiring it was that I was riding as they lost a mother, sister, or daughter to ovarian cancer. They loved that I had the courage to come out and ride all seven days.

Julie Salazar

Julie was diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer and Stage 1A endometrial cancer in 2020. She was declared disease-free in December of 2020 and is enjoying watching her hair grow back. She lives in Clayton, NY, with her wife and 2 rescue dogs. Her fitness goal is to complete the Empire State Bike Ride in 2021. You can read her original blog post here.

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Signs and Symptoms

Ovarian cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Back pain
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation or menstrual changes
  • Pain during sex

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

30 Years of Courage

1991   

NOCC begins as a grassroots organization founded by advocates and survivors in Boca Raton, Florida

 1995   

NOCC incorporates as the country’s first national organization providing awareness and education about ovarian cancer.

1996   

The first national ovarian cancer information hotline is established (1-888-OVARIAN), now averaging 10,000 calls each year.

1998   

NOCC proclaims a week in September “National Ovarian Cancer Week,” with a declaration from President Clinton. “Walk for a Whisper” 5K Walk/Run is initiated.

2000   

NOCC and the ovarian community proclaim September as “National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”

2002

The organization produces television PSA about early detection and distributes to 30 states.

2003

Ovarian.org received the Oncolink.com Award from OncoLink, the first online cancer resource founded by University of Pennsylvania cancer specialists.

NOCC receives the National Points of Light award in celebration of the success and impact volunteers have made in their communities.

2004

NOCC launches “Body Image/Body Essence” art exhibit by sculptor John Magnan as a tribute to his wife’s journey with ovarian cancer.

2006

NOCC launches the “Break the Silence” national education campaign.

2007

The “Break the Silence” campaign reaches 100M impressions.

NOCC helps launch the first consensus on ovarian cancer symptoms.

2008

NOCC moves its principal place of operation and state of incorporation/registration from Boca Raton, Florida to Dallas, Texas.

NOCC advocates help to double Department of Defense funding for ovarian cancer research to $20M per year.

2009

“Newly Diagnosed Patient Kit” is launched. DVD resource is made available in Spanish and Mandarin; 450,000+ pieces of literature are distributed nationwide.

2010

The Faces of Hope® program and term “Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer” are initiated. 

Annual fundraising events are branded “Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer®.”

2011

NOCC partners with The Dr. Oz Show to create his Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer® campaign.

Over 1200 newly diagnosed women receive NOCC’s TEAL PACKET®

The “Ann Schreiber Ovarian Cancer Research Training Program of Excellence: A study by Dr. Ruth Perets” is supported by NOCC with a $50,000 contribution.

2012

NOCC supports quality of life research with the GOG 0225, LIvES Study, which is ongoing and conducted by the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

2013

More than 4,000 Faces of Hope TEAL totes are distributed.

2014

More than 575,000 pieces of education and awareness literature are distributed nationally.

NOCC affirms its commitment to research with the newest  initiative, collaborating with Stand Up to Cancer, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to support the “Ovarian Cancer Dream Team.”

NOCC is featured in the highly coveted showcase window at 10 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan.

2016

NOCC reaches its milestone 25th anniversary.

NOCC becomes an official charity partner for the New York Marathon and launches its first platform for endurance enthusiasts across the U.S - Team Teal®.

2017

Rejuvenate, the first event of its kind, is introduced by NOCC for survivors as a retreat experience centered around the mind, body and spirit; it later expands to a national series.

Not Knowing is Killing Us is launched as a hard-hitting national awareness campaign. 

2018  

NOCC's signature Run/Walk Series is rebranded and Together in Teal® Ending Ovarian Cancer is brought to life in communities across the nation.  

2019

Team Teal®, NOCC's endurance platform, expands internationally with participants in Greece and Canada.  

Together in Teal® Ending Ovarian Cancer is hosted at New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a national historic landmark.

2020

In response to the pandemic, NOCC introduces programming offering relief to women and their caregivers including home meal delivery, Comfort for the Soul, and online professional counseling through Comfort the Mind.  

Teal Hearts Network, a series of regional survivor support groups, commences in a virtual setting.

Together in Teal(R) hosts its first virtual experience, No Boundaries, and unites participants in 50 states and 9 countries.  

Stages of Ovarian Cancer

Stage 1

The cancer is confined to the ovary or fallopian tube

1A - The cancer is confined to one ovary only

1B - The cancer is found on both ovaries

1C - One or both ovaries are found with cancer cells spilling out from the ovaries

1C1 - Accidental rupture of the capsule by the surgeon during surgery

1C2 - Rupture of the capsule occurred before surgery

1C3 - Cancer cells are found in the fluid of the pelvis/abdomen

Stage 2

Growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries with pelvic extension

2A - Extension of cancer to fallopian tubes or uterus

2B - Extension of cancer to other pelvic organs

Stage 3

Growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries, and the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis

3A - Microscopic cancer cells found in upper abdomen or lymph nodes

3B - Visible tumor found in upper abdomen less than 2cm in size

3C - Visible tumor found in upper abdomen greater than 2cm in size, including disease on the surface of liver or spleen

Stage 4

The cancer growth is widely spread throughout the body

4A - Cancer is found in the fluid around lung

4B - Cancer is found inside the lungs, liver or spleen

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Stages of Ovarian Cancer

Before ovarian cancer - healthy ovaries

Stage 1 - Cancer is confined to one or both ovaries

Stage 2 - Cancer spreads within the pelvic region

Stage 3 - Average stage of diagnoses is stage 3C; cancer spreads to other body parts within the abdomen

Stage 4 - Cancer spreads beyond the abdomen to other body parts

 

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition