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Stories of Inspiration

Friends Through Thick and Thin

By May 14, 2021June 14th, 2021No Comments

July 30th was ‘International Friendship Day’, and Nicole, Emily, and Lilly are part of a trio of friends who have always supported each other in both good and challenging times. A friendship that started in elementary and middle school blossomed into adulthood. “We all became close friends as youngsters and the rest is history! We have come a long way from middle school to adults, and we now love to have our movie and wine nights out together.”

In the summer of 2019, Nicole was 26 and had a granulosa cell mass removed – the friendship between the trio strengthened even more as they rallied around her. Prior to her surgery, she had been healthy; and her medical team felt strongly that the cancer cells had been removed. Months later she began experiencing severe pain, thinking her appendix was about to burst, only to discover cancer had returned and there were now several masses. Nicole’s friends jumped into action immediately and wanted to do all they could for her. They routinely supported her through her treatments to lessen the stress as much as possible. “Nicole is our best friend and has the best sense of humor. She has done an amazing job staying positive through the cancer journey – her attitude is “I refuse” and does her best to not feel “down” or allow negativity to cloud her thoughts. We all got hats made that say “I refuse” and over 60 friends and family wore them.” The friends still wanted to do more – and they decided to run the Chicago Half Marathon as a way to honor Nicole to raise awareness and raise much-needed funds for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition through NOCC Team TEAL. Emily, an avid runner, signed up on the spot, recruited Lilly and Taylor another friend of the group. “Taylor has never run a half marathon, but there was no question; we were going to do this for her. Running gives me a sense of doing something bigger than myself. Running not only for my dear friend but also helping others impacted by the disease. We love and care about Nicole very much and want to do whatever we can during this tough time. We all just wanted to let Nicole know that we’re there for her and willing to do whatever it takes to help her through this. I told her I was running the week she started chemotherapy and she was so thankful. Running for NOCC Team TEAL is important because no one should have to go through ovarian cancer or see one of their friends or family going through it. We know what it’s like now and have become part of a community focused on finding a way to improve treatment or earlier diagnosis for women”

The friends agree that joining NOCC Team TEAL makes it easier to push through the training involved to prepare to run a 13.1-mile race. “It definitely gives us a sense of purpose to get through the tough training sessions; we think of the hard times that Nicole and other people with cancer have to go through and that helps us not stop, knowing that we are running for them. If Nicole can endure a chemotherapy session and the side effects, we can certainly endure a tough run. We also have our favorite songs on our playlist that remind us of her, and that is a great pick me up for our longer training sessions.”

The friends hope that being part of the NOCC family will help continue to bring more awareness to ovarian cancer. “The fact that many people are diagnosed at later stages since there isn’t an early reliable screening tool is what we want to see change. I hope that our effort will be part of the support that leads to a test that results in more positive outcomes. Anything we can do, we will do to help not only our friend but others that might be diagnosed in the future!”

So far, living through a pandemic and two rounds of chemo, Nicole has been tackling cancer like a champ! She just finished her Master’s Degree and passed her national counseling exam. She is now a licensed professional counselor! Nicole’s friends look forward to being together and just enjoying each other’s company for years to come, and know that Nicole will be cheering them on at the finish line at the 2021 Chicago Half Marathon!

Read more about Taylor, Emily, and Lilly as well as other athletes that will be training for the 2021 Chicago Half Marathon. To learn more about the NOCC and NOCC Team TEAL reach out to

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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

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

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

30 Years of Courage


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


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


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


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.


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


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

2003 received the 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.


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


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


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

NOCC helps launch the first consensus on ovarian cancer symptoms.


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.


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


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®.”


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.


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


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


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.


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®.


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. 


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


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.


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.  

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