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My Most Important Role – A Caregiver Story

By May 18, 2021June 15th, 2021No Comments
Two smiling White females with arms around each other

March 17, 2017 – one of the many dates engraved in my mind. The day my Mom, my best friend has diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer, and the day God gave me the strength to do things for my Mom, I never imagined I would have to do.

At fifteen years old, I started working in doctor’s offices, from filing, reception, phlebotomy, vital signs; my careers have always been in the medical field, and now my mother had become a “patient.” I say this because, in my many years in patient care, I developed bonds with patients and truly felt compassion for what they were going through. Maybe God was training me for what he knew I would have to take on in my thirties.

Although I no longer work directly with patients, my career is in the clinical research trial industry, and I hope that I live to see a cure for cancer. Every time I see the words cancer and specifically ovarian cancer, a thousand thoughts go through my mind.

One of those thoughts is cancer caregiver; I quickly started my “notebooks” I recorded everything, from doctor’s visits, chemo treatments, medication, and symptom diaries. I joined Facebook groups, learned about the NOCC, and started fundraising and joining the annual walks. Everything ovarian cancer, I read about.

I needed to save my Mom; I needed to question and record everything continually. I was her advocate, and I needed to make sure she had the best; I needed to be in control, and unfortunately, I wasn’t, so I did everything I could to feel like I had control of this disease.

On June 15, 2019, my beautiful, humble, dignified mother went to heaven.  She didn’t lose her battle with ovarian cancer, and I didn’t lose control; I have to often remind myself of this – but the truth is we both won at life. My mother made me a better person. She made me appreciate the little things in life that we often take for granted. She rarely complained, she kept her faith, and she endured for her family. I look at life differently because of her.

She left a legacy that we will honor because if you met Armida, even just once, she impacted your life. I know she didn’t want to be a burden, and she never was. I told her it was an honor to take care of her, and as a caregiver, your goal is to heal your loved one. I had many frustrating days, juggling everything in life and working full time. I wish I could take back those days, but a reminder to all of you who feel the same, we are human, and the emotional aspect of caring for someone with ovarian cancer is not easy, don’t look back on those days – remember the good ones. Like the time we had a pizza party at 10 PM because my Mom saw pizza on TV and had a craving, and I ordered two pies – even if she only took a few bites and we laughed in our sweats, as we lay on the couch. Those were the happy moments, where despite her illness, we lived in the moment. Whatever I could do to make her happy, I did. No matter how big or small, I wanted to make the best of her days. I even contacted a dog rescue and surprised her with her favorite rescue dog Daliso from New York Bully Crew, who now lives with me.

I know many of you feel and do the same. My heart goes out to you; you are winning; you are not losing control. You have been given a priceless “task,” so whether you are a current or past caregiver, smile and breathe because you are the difference in your loved one’s life.

Margaritte De Falco

Margaritte De Falco – proud and blessed daughter of the most faithful, generous, admirable woman, Armida De Falco

Team Lady Armida’s Legacy lives on at the NOCC in Long Island, New York.

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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