Some may think video games are just for play, but these three streamers are committed to using their pastime to make a serious difference for the ovarian cancer community. Our #GameOVAR ambassadors Tamborine Panda, Isabella and Podgie are raising support for lifesaving research through August 14 during OCRA’s first-ever streaming event through Tiltify. Read on to learn what inspired them to participate.
“It’s hard to find the words to describe what it’s like being diagnosed with something as scary as ovarian cancer,” says Isabella, who received a diagnosis of stage 2 ovarian cancer at the age of 18. In remission since 2019, she is eager to empower others by sharing her story. “Since having cancer, I’ve embraced life. I use this experience to educate and hope to help people who are in similar situations to mine.”
Her desire to support those living with ovarian cancer is what prompted Isabella to first hold a charity stream to raise funds for OCRA in 2021. “I think the streaming community is so helpful for something like this because you meet and talk to people from all over the world and make a very meaningful connection with them,” says Isabella, explaining that the strength of these bonds translates to her followers caring about the causes most important to her. “Cancer is something that everyone knows yet may not feel emotionally moved by, but when you provide a face to it then it becomes a lot more meaningful and important to someone.”
Isabella hopes that her story will move others to contribute to OCRA, as she believes funding research is critical to building a better future for everyone around the globe. “Someday, these donations will keep another 18-year-old girl from getting the same diagnosis as me,” she notes. “Someday, these donations will help find a new treatment or cure that may make fighting ovarian cancer easier. And hopefully, someday these donations will erase having to battle it at all.”
“I may not identify as a female, but I had a mother growing up who meant a great deal to me, and at the end of the day, I do this to honor her memory,” says Tamborine Panda of his commitment to fundraising for OCRA. He credits his mother Colleen, who passed away from ovarian cancer at the end of 2018, with teaching him many valuable life lessons that remain with him to this day. “I am the person I am today because of her,” he says.
Having been involved with streaming for a little more than three years now, Tamborine Panda has built a loyal following of viewers, who he endearingly refers to as Panda Fam. “I am humbled every day by my community … which is extremely dedicated and supportive. It has been a joy to come together with like-minded individuals,” he says of his followers, who are located all over the world. This devotion extends beyond watching his streams to providing concrete support for the causes that mean most to him. Last year, his followers rallied around him when he decided to fundraise for OCRA in conjunction with dyeing his beard teal to spread awareness about ovarian cancer. Not only did they donate, but they also reached out to share their personal connections to the disease. “It was eye-opening,” he shares. “Unfortunately, it’s such a nefarious reason for people to connect” he says, but notes that it also shows how video gaming has the power to bring individuals from across the world together over shared causes.
Given the ties that he has forged, Tamborine Panda hopes that his involvement in the #GameOVAR initiative will help to connect even more people with the cause. “I hope this helps bring more awareness to the gaming and entertainment sphere, and more specifically bring awareness to the streaming community at large,” he says. “Having lost my mother to ovarian cancer, I am all for any focused campaign.”
“OCRA means a lot to me because Pookie, my late grandmother, passed away from ovarian cancer,” says Podgie. “Lack of healthcare and research led to her premature death.” The loss of her grandmother left an indelible mark on Podgie, who was moved to start a fundraiser for OCRA in her honor on Tiltify. Her followers, who number more than 12,000 on her Twitch streaming channel, showed up and showed support for Podgie, returning the care and concern that she has continuously showed for so many others.
Recognized for her cause fundraising on Tiltify, Podgie has used her platform to raise awareness and donations for a number of charities that are significant to her. She fondly refers to herself and her followers as gayliens, and together they have created a beautiful community that has inclusivity at its heart. As she notes on her Twitch profile, “We enjoy getting up to a lot of activities … gaymes, movie nights, lots of art and much, much more! Come hang out [with] us!”
Podgie’s innate empathy shines through when she talks about how she wishes to keep others from having to go through the same painful ordeal she experienced when her grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer. “I want to be a part of this cause to help prevent the massive scars left after losing a loved one to this disease,” Podgie says, adding that she also wants to make a difference for all those whose health has been impacted by ovarian cancer.