Stiletto Sprint: Race to fight ovarian cancer

Stiletto Sprint 2016

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Seven years ago the Teal Magnolias ovarian cancer support group was founded. Today, sadly, just a few of the women who founded the group are still with us.

"Survivors guilt sometimes. But that makes me want to carry the torch even more. It's of course for the people who passed, but also for the 21 thousand woman who are going to be diagnosed this year," Pamela Boyajian said of being one of the last original members still surviving.

Nearly 70 percent of women are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Pamela was shocked eight years ago when she was diagnosed.

"I felt great really. I played tennis one weekend, taught yoga, went to a Panther game on a Sunday," she said. "Then I realized I wasn't feeling good, thought I was coming down with the flu." It was not long after her visit to the doctor she was told she had ovarian cancer.

She fought hard, and today is feeling good. But she knows, after losing her close friend Carolyn Finegan in August, recurrence is common with this disease.

"She's my personal guardian angel," Pamela says of Carolyn.

The Teal Magnolias wanted to do something to make a difference. That's how the idea of the "Stiletto Sprint" was born. The 5th Annual Sprint is September 19th. Over the last four years they have raised over $350,000 for the Carolinas Ovarian Cancer Fund to support research at Levine Cancer Institute.

Dr. David Tait says thanks to that funding they are making progress.

"Our particular research is focusing on blood tests or bio markers. We actually think we may be on to something that could be exciting down the road," Dr. Tait said.

Since the beginning, The Bissell Companies has been a presenting sponsor. WBTV is honored to be a community partner in this important fundraiser. One hundred percent of the money raised stays in our area and also helps fund patient education and community outreach programs.

Ovarian cancer is hard to fight because it's so hard to detect. That's why Pamela, and other patients who are still fighting the disease, ask you to start a team, slip on stilettos and help save lives.

Dr. Tait says there are no specific signs you have ovarian cancer which is why the majority of cases are detected in advanced stages. Some of the subtle signs can be the following: abdominal swelling, heartburn, change in bowel or bladder function. If you treat these symptoms but they persist, Dr. Tait says, be your own advocate and ask your OBGYN to explore more and rule out ovarian or gynecological cancer.

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