The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation (SROCF) humbly began 15 years ago, on a living room floor, with the goal to give women a fighting chance against ovarian cancer. At the heart of the foundation is Sandy Rollman, a remarkable woman who lost her battle to ovarian cancer in 2000 at far too young an age. Sandy’s oncology nurse, Robin Cohen, and sister, Adriana Way, first came together to fight for her when she couldn’t fight for herself any longer. They created the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation in her memory while trying to prevent other women from having to endure the same pain as she did. When first trying to connect Sandy with another survivor, Robin discovered how few resources and support services there were available to women with the disease. From inception, the SROCF set up a monthly meeting to make sure that all women with ovarian cancer had a place for support and to connect with other survivors. Robin says that even at their first meeting a woman admitted “I thought I was the only one.” The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation works tirelessly to ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer ever feels alone.
Today, the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation works to unite the local Philadelphia community together to promote awareness of ovarian cancer through education about the disease, research funding, and advocacy. Their signature event, the Sandy Sprint Superhero 5K or 10K Run/Walk & Canine Sprint helps in spreading the word about ovarian cancer and raises funds to advance research. The attendees show up to this fun event in their favorite superhero costumes, united in the fight against ovarian cancer. The 2015 Sandy Sprint raised an impressive $260,000 for research funding. Robin credits the success of the event to the way the Philadelphia community embraced them. The event has grown from year to year, with more than 4,000 people in attendance at the 2015 event. A special part of the day is the survivor ceremony, where each survivor stands on stage and announces their number of years of survivorship; with all the years of survivorship then added up. Last year over 75 survivors shared their experience to have a combined total of 247 years of survivorship! Robin notes this ceremony gives hope to survivors by showing that long term survivorship is not just possible, but attainable. This year’s Sandy Sprint will take place on April 23rd at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts.
The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation also provides programs to support their mission of awareness, advocacy, and support. The newly launched With a Little Help From Her Friends Support Program connects a newly diagnosed woman with a survivor who is comparable in age and diagnosis. The mentors provide one-on-one support through phone calls and in person meetings, ensuring that every ovarian cancer patient receive the support they need and deserve. In fact, many of the women then come back and act as mentors to newly diagnosed women.
Every year, through events like the Sandy Sprint, the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation funds research to find a cure for ovarian cancer, a screening test for early detection, breakthrough treatments and improve the quality of life for those living with ovarian cancer. Since their founding, the SROCF has granted over $3 million dollars to fund research! Last year the SROCF embarked on their most ambitious project to date; committing half a million dollars to help fund the Stand Up to Cancer Ovarian Cancer Dream Team. The Dream Team will focus on treatments for ovarian cancer patients today and prevention and early detection of the disease. Robin says that this research grant “is a big step, but an exciting one” for the impact it’ll make on ovarian cancer prevention and early detection. She also says that this commitment to research funding is what they as an organization are most proud of, “that even in the midst of all the sadness surrounding the disease, in some small way we’ve played a role in someone’s survival.”
The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation has had a long standing and much valued relationship with the Alliance. In addition to jointly raising funds for the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team, the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation works together with the Alliance in the fight against ovarian cancer through their involvement in the Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives® and Partner Member programs for over 10 years.
Since coming together on just a living room floor, the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation has grown into a well-respected organization dedicated to funding cutting edge research and educating the public on the disease, all while supporting women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in ensuring no woman ever feel alone.