In 2008, a group of ovarian cancer patients and survivors created the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Arizona. They were tired of the lack of resources in Arizona: no support network, no one to talk to outside of the doctor’s office, no extracurricular meetings or events, and no resources for caretakers. They started OCAZ to fill that gap, and since then the members of the organization have shown a strong passion for spreading awareness.
OCAZ’s current president, Joe Casey, started working with the organization in 2010 after his mother passed away from ovarian cancer. She was closely affiliated and active with the organization, so he wanted to fill her spot: “Call me selfish, but I found it to be cathartic for me. I was a twenty year old dude not sure what to do with his emotions.”
OCAZ organizes its work about pillars of initiatives: survivorship, awareness, advocacy and fund development towards research. They want to make sure that everyone who wants a part within the organization will play a valuable role.
For survivorship, OCAZ hosts multiple seminars and retreats throughout the year for patients and survivors. Also, when patients are first diagnosed, OCAZ makes sure they receive a welcome packet with collateral from local organizations, a frequently asked questions page, and contact information for their medical advisory board for any questions they may have.
When it comes to development, OCAZ puts on a 1k/5k Walk to Stomp Out Ovarian Cancer every April. This is an upbeat event for the whole community to join together and raise awareness while having fun; last year, they even choreographed a dance flash mob. In May, they will host an online auction for Mother’s Day gift baskets. Throughout the year, they work with businesses on cause marketing, and also have collection jars out at local grocery stores.
Last year, they donated $1000 to Editha’s House, an organization that houses women who need to travel to the city for treatment. Every month OCAZ gives out two gas cards to caregivers as a way to support them and make sure they aren’t forgotten.
For Awareness, OCAZ hands out coasters that feature the organization’s logo and ovarian cancer symptoms to local restaurants and bars. They are also active in Survivors Teaching Students® and air Public Service Announcements on local networks.
Advocacy is also a very important aspect to OCAZ. They hosted an annual breakfast where local government representatives had the opportunity to sit and listen to patients and oncologists about upcoming medical issues. They also find being a Partner Member of the Alliance is very helpful when it comes to staying up to date with public issues.
OCAZ has really enjoyed their experience of being a Partner Member, for it helps them connect the dots and learn from other organizations what’s been successful for them in development. They enjoy meeting with people at the conference and discussing successes and failures – “we all kind of have the same mission,” says Joe.