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A Caregiver’s Story

By May 14, 2021June 15th, 2021No Comments
A young couple with their younger daughters, overlooking a river far below

November is National Family Caregivers Month and Michael Estreicher of New Jersey took on the role of caregiver for his wife Jess when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Michael is also part of NOCC TEAM TEAL and was set to run in this November’s TCS New York City Marathon.

“Jess had surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York on August 19, 2019, and was in the hospital for a week. Her chemotherapy treatments started about a month later. My first concern was caring for Jess, especially managing her pain and tending to her daily struggles after the surgery. Unfortunately, in the interim, Jess developed a minor post-surgical infection that required home wound care. With some instruction from the doctors, I learned how to care for an open wound and took care of this myself. Although I was definitely out of my comfort zone, it meant a lot to me to know that Jess trusted me to help her with her care and that she knew I would do everything I could. While my parents and Jess’s mom were very helpful, I really took on all parental responsibilities for our two girls, Sophia (age 13) and Lyla (age 10) from getting them ready for school, helping with homework, after school activities, and preparing meals. Jess does so much for our family so I needed to do whatever I could to make that challenging period as easy for her and the girls as possible. My family means everything to me and it was important that I be home and be able to take care of them. I took about 5 weeks off from work to be home with the family and super grateful to my law firm, Akerman LLP, for all its support. Jess’s chemo lasted 16 weeks and for most of the treatments, I was there to drive her to Memorial Sloan Kettering and be with her. Jess’s chemo ended in January 2020 and she received a clean bill of health and remains cancer-free. Even better, her mother Mimi is also an ovarian cancer survivor and will be celebrating 18 years NED!!

A runner for over 8 years I started running again at the very end of Jess’s 16-week chemo schedule. At the beginning of her treatment, I felt that I couldn’t leave Jess and the girls. If I had free time, I was trying to be with them. But I also found myself in a running ‘rut’. A friend told me about the NOCC Team TEAL program, and I signed up to run in the TCS New York City Marathon in a way to raise awareness and funds for the NOCC to honor my wife and mother-in-law. The idea of running and supporting Jess, Mimi, and the NOCC really helped me get going. Even though I was disappointed when the NYC marathon decided to be a virtual event this year, I enjoyed training for a marathon and sharing the joy of Jess’s improved health with friends, family, and colleagues as I raised money for the NOCC. News of the cancellation wasn’t a big surprise, but I can’t wait to keep raising money for NOCC while training for the 2021 race. Jess has the BRCA 1 gene mutation and we have always been carefully monitoring her health. We want to support NOCC in all its efforts to help all women fight this terrible disease. I know Jess, Mimi, and my girls will be cheering me on!”

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition applauds all the caregivers that take care of the special women in our lives! To learn more about NOCC Team TEAL, contact teamteal@ovarian.org.

 

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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