One of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s newest Partner Members, Ovarcome Non-Profit Inc., has made great strides in its first year. Founder and President Runsi Sen was inspired by her mother Atashi’s battle with ovarian cancer. Like many women, Atashi was diagnosed when her disease was already advanced, and she passed away within a year. “Even her physicians didn’t think the symptoms were anything to worry about,” recalls Runsi. “Having lived through that journey with my beloved mother, I wanted to make every woman aware of the symptoms so they don’t face the same consequences.”
Runsi’s mother lived in India at the time of her diagnosis. “The health care system is very different,” notes Runsi. “Many women succumb to disease without ever being treated.” Her mother’s experience led to a two-fold mission for Ovarcome: first, to raise awareness of ovarian cancer worldwide ; and second, to provide support to women in developing nations for chemotherapy and surgery.
Ovarcome launched in January 2012. The organization has brought together physicians, oncologists, industry experts, social workers and successful entrepreneurs to grow this organization on a global scale. Ovarcome has held a number of fundraisers this year to support the group’s programs. Their first fundraiser, held in late April, was a Mother’s Day shopping and food event. On October 6 the group will host a benefit concert in honor of underprivileged women diagnosed with ovarian cancer with BRISHTI, a fusion Indian rock band based in Seattle.
As part of its educational outreach mission Ovarcome hosted the first of its Lunch & Learn Seminar Series at Rice University, Houston, on June 26. Physicians from MD Anderson addressed a crowd of survivors, caregivers and support groups who wanted to learn about the role of mind, body and medicine in overcoming ovarian cancer. “Participants mentioned they took away a lot from the seminar,” says Runsi. Now Ovarcome is in conversation with the Alliance and other Partner Member groups about hosting a Regional Conference in Houston next year.
In September, Ovarcome partnered with the organization AYZH to send ovarian cancer awareness postcards to 26 public health clinics in rural India. The postcards were included in birth kits that AYZH distributes to underprivileged women through the clinics. Ovarcome is also partnering with the Tata Medical Center in India. “They help us identify deserving underprivileged ovarian cancer patients who could use our sponsorship for treatment purposes,” says Runsi. “Currently we are sponsoring one particular patient, selected based on the criteria we mutually agreed upon with the medical center. Her family members are farmers with a collective monthly income of less than $100.” Funds from Ovarcome are helping pay for the woman’s chemotherapy treatments. The organization hopes to extend similar sponsorships in other developing nations over the next year.
Runsi became aware of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance last year, when she was thinking of launching Ovarcome. “It seemed like a great incubator for young organizations like ours that want to expand. The Alliance has given us a lot of information and keeps us in front of what’s going on in this field. I feel we are much more knowledgeable because of the Alliance’s support and are better educated to make informed strategic decisions towards growing our organization and helping women here in the US and worldwide.”
Ovarcome has accomplished a great deal in its first year, and is busy planning for the years ahead. As Runsi notes, “We want to support and save every woman we can. Our dream is a world free from the scourge of cancer.”