Running to Find a Cure for Ovarian Cancer – Unleash the SHE Rochester
When I first wrote about the Unleash the SHE series last fall, I learned it wasn’t a “girl power” event. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but to find out that SHE is an acronym – Strength, Health, Empowerment – makes this event, and the organizations behind it, all that more impressive.
The Unleash the SHE Rochester 5K, 10K walk/run is taking place Sunday, May 1 at 9 a.m. in Rochester Minnesota. Over 1,000 women will show their support by running and walking to alter the impact of ovarian cancer in Minnesota, and around the world.
$5 from every entry goes to the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA). MOCA is a statewide non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funding research needed to detect ovarian cancer early and treat it properly. This is critical because there is currently no test or early screening for ovarian cancer, the deadliest of all gynecological cancers.
I didn’t know much about this disease before looking into this. All I knew was that my grandmother passed away from this, but that’s about it. Learning the sudden impact this can have on women of virtually any age, is really tragic. Runners tend to be a supportive group of people, and as I’ve learned, this event has helped multiple people deal with this disease.
Running to Support
Katie Anderson has been a huge supporter of this event since she first ran it in 2012 when her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Katie told me how hard it was because it felt so sudden. Her mom had a stomach ache for about two weeks, but didn’t think much of it. When she finally went to the doctor, they found out she had Stage III C ovarian cancer.
This was really hard on her. Knowing there wasn’t anything physical she could do for her mom, she began researching support groups. She found MOCA, and as an avid runner, was instantly drawn to Unleash The SHE.
Watching my mom go through this hurt me so badly… I couldn’t help her… at least I could help raise money, and maybe that could lead to something that would impact myself, my daughter or other women.
One week before they were set to run the race, Katie’s mother passed away.
“I cried the whole race, but I knew my mom wanted me to do it anyway.” She wore a t-shirt in memory of her mom, and said people were coming up to her the whole racing, giving their support and crying with her.
Katie is dedicated to running this race every year, not to set PR’s, or for a shiny medal, but to make progress towards finding a cure for this brutal disease.
Now that my mom has passed… I still want to run the race to help another daughter not have to go through this… I don’t want my daughter to go through what I did… I want to keep doing this to raise money and awareness… I guess I’ll keep running it until they find a cure.
About the Race
The course itself is pretty flat. Starting at Rochester Community and Technical College, it winds through a wooded area, next to a big road, through some residential streets, and finishes by crossing a bunch of grassy athletic fields.
The 10k is similar, but adds an extra loop that crosses the river near the Mayo Civic Center and back. Everyone I’ve talked to about this event has said that, while there are some people who truly race this, it’s more about getting together to support the survivors and victims of this nasty disease.
Last fall, Maggie DeMars, one of the race organizers told me,
It’s not just about running the race… it’s about coming together around this cause… sometimes the survivor is running/walking and others are walking along side… there is a lot of emotion that comes along with it.
New This Year
To accommodate the growing field of participants, the event now takes place at the Rochester Community & Technical College. If you’ve been part of this event in the past, you’ll greatly appreciate this! Also, men now have their own event. As more and more men wanted to show their support, an untimed 5K called the “Support the SHE” will give them the opportunity to walk and run in solidarity with the women they love. Children can also participate in a 1K Kids Fun Run.
All timed finishers will receive an Unleash the SHE stained glass race medallion to remember the race, and ultimately, the reason they participated.
The Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA) was founded in 1999 by a small group of ovarian cancer survivors. Today, MOCA has grown to an organization of more than 1,000 survivors and more than 45,000 supporters with a full range of programs encompassing awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms, education, support and research.
MOCA has provided more than $5 million to ovarian cancer research funding, with the goal of an early detection test, better treatment, and hopefully one day, a cure for ovarian cancer. They work hard to educate the medical community on the signs of ovarian cancer, so more women are diagnosed accurately and promptly. They offer a wide variety of support groups throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, while offering programming for survivors and their families.
Ovarian Cancer by the Numbers
Ovarian cancer doesn’t get the hype of breast cancer, but it is the 5th leading cause of cancer deaths among women, and the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers.
Since there is no test available, fewer than 20% of patients are diagnosed early and early detection is huge in the treatment process. A woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1 in 72. On average, 22,000 women are diagnosed and 15,000 will die from ovarian cancer each year. This year alone, nearly 400 Minnesota women will be diagnosed.
Research has shown that surgery by gynecologic oncologist is one of the top factors in increasing ovarian cancer survival rates, as well as decreasing rates of recurrence. MOCA works to educate healthcare providers about the importance of a gynecologic oncologist.
Register Today for Unleash the SHE Rochester!
If you’d like to register for any of the events at Unleash the SHE, visit the registration page for more information.
Have you run in one of these events before? Did you run for someone? Share in the comments below.