CancerDancer uses an innovative technique to raise awareness of ovarian cancer: dance. “We wanted our website to be memorable,” recalls founder and ovarian cancer survivor Esther Windmueller. The organization encourages people to film themselves dancing and post their videos on the CancerDancer website. “We hoped people would visit to see the dancing, and stay to learn about the disease.”
Esther got the idea for CancerDancer about a year after her diagnosis with ovarian cancer. She thought that awareness of the disease was poor. “Even though I was in a high risk group, I didn’t know about my risk factors until nine months after diagnosis. There’s a big gap between what people should know and what they do know.” Her partner and co-founder Kyle Nicholas lost his mother to ovarian cancer a few weeks before Esther was diagnosed. Together, they created CancerDancer as a way to raise awareness about risk factors and symptoms of the disease.
Anyone is welcome to contribute a video to the CancerDancer website. “Most of our videos are not professional dancers,” notes Esther. “They’re just people dancing for fun. We encourage everyone to get up and dance with the people you care about and share it for a good cause. Just grab your cell phone and record yourself dancing!”
While the group continues to host dance videos, its mission has expanded to focus on social media. The group hosts some local events in Richmond and Tidewater, Virginia, but most of their outreach is done online. CancerDancer posts daily messages on Facebook and Twitter, and is working on a redesign of the website that will feature social media prominently. “We post about a range of issues,” notes Esther. “Everything from financial issues to being a good friend to someone with cancer.”
CancerDancer also has plans to launch an iPhone app this fall. Similar to the Alliance’s Symptom Diary App, this program will help women track the symptoms of ovarian cancer and email results to themselves or to a physician. When it launches, the app will be available free of charge through the Apple store.
CancerDancer became a Partner Member of the Alliance within six months of its founding. “It’s valuable to see what other organizations are doing and make connections with other people. Our partnership with the Alliance helps CancerDancer stay on top of what’s happening in Congress and within the pharmaceutical industry. We are pleased and proud to be a Partner Member,” says Esther.