Ovarian cancer survivors are raising awareness

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Ovarian cancer survivors Jean Widder, Wendy Saylor and Jen Buterbaugh are organizing 'Tea Time for Teal' to raise awareness about 'the silent disease.'

Three local ovarian cancer survivors are hosting high tea on Sunday, April 15, at John Allison Public House in Greencastle to raise awareness about the disease. Due to demand for tickets, two teas will be held, at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

This is the second annual fundraiser for a local team called “Teal is a Big Deal,” which will participate in the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition 5K Run/Walk to Break the Silence of Ovarian Cancer being held in Frederick on June 16. Teal is the color designated for ovarian cancer awareness.

The team and fundraiser are the brainchild of two local women, Jean Widder and Jen Buterbaugh of Greencastle, who have both survived ovarian cancer and are now teaming up to make a difference. They met Wendy Saylor of Hagerstown, who is also assisting with the tea, through the Frederick chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

Saylor was diagnosed in July 2016 by an emergency room doctor who told her that the stomach problems she was having were due to ovarian cancer. Known as the silent disease, there is no effective screening process currently available for ovarian cancer and the symptoms are easily attributed to common every day ailments so diagnosis often comes after it is already in an advanced stage, according to Widder. The cause really hits home for Saylor because not only is she a survivor, but her mother died at age 50 of the same disease.

  'Tea Time for Teal' 

Widder and Buterbaugh have been friends since their teenage daughters were in first grade. It was a shock to be diagnosed within a little over a year of each other and their shared experience motivated them to want to do something to spotlight ovarian cancer awareness. The ladies decided the 5K run/walk was the perfect opportunity and came up with the idea of the high tea as a fundraiser.

"Tea Time for Teal" will feature a traditional menu of salad, finger sandwiches, scones, fresh fruit, petit fours and tea. Dollies Tea Room in Clear Spring is providing three different varieties of tea to taste.

There will be raffles and silent auctions for donated items.

John Allison Public House is donating the space as well as 15 percent of all proceeds from the restaurant for the night.

“Tickets to the tea would make a great early Mother's Day gift and the rest of the family can eat in the pub to give the whole family a night out,” Widder said.

The tea is also sponsored by Facchina Eye Center, Pace Chiropractic, Blue Mountain Transportation, CEBCO Village Mart, Antrim Way Honda, Bowers Appraisal Service, Koons Insurance and Financial Services and UV Stems “The Flower Shop."

Tickets are $30 per person or two for $55. Children 8 and under are $12.

To purchase tickets, go to https://www.ticketailor.com/events/tealisabigdeal. More information on both events can be found at facebook.com/TeaTimeforTeal.

'Teal is a Big Deal' 

From Jean Widder:

Until now, we really didn't think, two small people in a big world could make a difference. Especially in a world that seems to be so heavy laden with many problems. They say when you receive a cancer diagnosis that it changes your life and for myself and Jen Buterbaugh, this rings all to true.

Here is our story and what we would like to do to make a difference:

I wasn't prepared for the diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer at age 47. It’s a busy time in my life being a wife, a mother of a tween age girl and a teenage age girl, and helping to run two family businesses. For some reason, I always thought I was immune to cancer, never having any major health concerns, I thought cancer happened to others, not to me. So to say I was unprepared was an understatement, nor was I prepared to have a long-time friend from my same small town come to me a little over a year after my diagnosis and tell me she was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

My friend, Jen, who also lives Greencastle, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January of last year. Along with our daughters Paige and Alivia, we have all been friends since the girls we in first grade. Jen was 39 years old and was diagnosed with clear cell ovarian cancer. After two surgeries, one in late December and a second in January 2017, she is doing well, although, there is still a lot of uncertainty due to her type of cancer being so rare. Only 6 percent of women have her type of ovarian cancer. Together we decided to make a difference and have joined with the Frederick Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. NOCC is about bringing awareness to women about symptoms and OC research.

Even though Jen and I are considered in “remission," the future for anyone who is a cancer survivor is uncertain. So when your oncologist says his goal is to keep up your quality of life as close as possible to what it was before cancer for at least another five years, that doesn’t sound so great. But, what he means is, by then they hope for another breakthrough that could be beneficial to myself, Jen and so many with this horrible disease.

Here is where you come in. Jen and I would like to invite you to join us in the walk/run for Break the Silence of Ovarian Cancer on June 16 in Frederick. We are asking you to join us in helping to fund research to develop better treatment or better yet, find a cure for this silent disease. The walk is part of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition - Frederick Chapter. Last year, they raised over $94,000 which goes toward ovarian cancer research and this year's goal is over $100,000.

Register today (don’t delay!) by using this link runwalk.ovarian.org/Frederick and register under our team “TEAL IS A BIG DEAL." We look forward to having you join us in making a difference!

'Ignorance is not bliss' 

From Wendy Saylor:

In July 2016, I was sitting in the emergency room shortly after a family vacation, troubled by the same vague stomach problems I’d had for weeks. I became speechless and in total shock when the ER doctor came in and blurted out, “The CAT scan we did shows advanced cancer – probably ovarian. You need to see an oncologist immediately – Monday!” This was a Friday afternoon. I asked him if there was anything I could do this weekend. He replied, “Try to enjoy your life.”

Fast forward a few days, and I was referred to a specialty surgeon. I also had an appointment with my former oncologist. You see, I had fought and defeated breast cancer 13 years earlier.

Facing ovarian cancer had always been my biggest fear. I lost my beautiful mother to the disease when she was only 50 years old. I realize now that had I confronted this fear, my diagnosis might not have been so dire – stage 4 ovarian cancer.

I decided to undergo genetic testing, something I had opted not to do many years earlier. It came back positive for the BRCA gene. This result meant that I faced a high probability of contracting breast, ovarian and/or melanoma cancers in my lifetime. I’ve now had all three – the trifecta. Although this was unwelcome news for me, my doctors told me that much of the new cancer research focused on these abnormal genes and that new treatments to target specific cancers were quickly becoming available.

Amazingly – with love from my husband, daughters, sister, brothers, family, friends, and co-workers, thousands of prayers and advanced care and treatments from a fantastic group of doctors – I am here to tell this story. After more than a year of grueling surgeries, chemotherapy and a new FDA-approved cancer inhibiting drug, I am feeling good and able to participate in so many things. I have my life back.

In July 2016, I thought my life was only months from being over, but I am here and living the best, fullest life possible. I am enjoying my grandchildren, friends, sunrises, walks, snowfalls, swimming in the ocean and flowers in bloom. I am thankful and grateful every day for these cherished moments.

The point of sharing my story is this: women, please know that ignorance is not bliss. The signs of ovarian cancer are subtle and tricky – they mimic many common ailments. Listen to your body. If you suspect that something isn’t right, have it checked out by a doctor. If you are still concerned, have it checked again. If your family has a history of cancer – especially breast or ovarian – get genetic testing for the BRCA gene. The information you receive and the preventive measures you take could save your life.

The most common signs of ovarian cancer include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, full bladder, frequent urination, and feeling full when eating. Address these symptoms immediately if you experience them. Don’t delay. At this time, there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer. However, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance for survival and a wonderful life ahead.

Be fearless!