The Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance is committed to providing Education, Support, and Funding of Research for Ovarian Cancer throughout Wisconsin.
While working as a volunteer on the Komen Foundation’s Milwaukee Race for the Cure in 1999, Joan Sagan, an oncology nurse with more than 20 years’ experience, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After her diagnosis, she knew that she wanted to start a Wisconsin organization that would do for ovarian cancer what the Komen Foundation did for breast cancer: provide education, encourage advocacy, generate support.
After her treatment, Joan assembled family, friends, medical professionals and fellow survivors to launch the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance (WOCA). After Joan’s passing, the organization was carried on by her two sisters, Sandi and Kelli. After their retirement in 2015, WOCA is now operated by Executive Director Ashley Schneider.
Formed in May 2000, WOCA has taken active steps to reach women who need the organization most with the formation of a medical advisory board, the creation of the Comedy for a Cause fundraising event, expansion of outreach all across the state of Wisconsin, and many other initiatives. Joan’s legacy continues with the continued operation and strengthening of WOCA.
In 2020, WOCA joined forces the Ovarian Cancer Community Outreach (OCCO). OCCO was founded after Connie Rutledge, nearing the end of her three-year battle with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in 2010. An accomplished teacher, coach and principal, Connie found empowerment when first diagnosed through learning everything she could about this cancer she knew so little about.
Connie was motivated by amazing women – who had many different types of gynecological cancers – which she met during their shared battle and saw how all gynecological cancers truly are intertwined. She also saw a need for ovarian cancer awareness and learned that awareness is critical when fighting ovarian cancer as most women are not diagnosed until they are in advanced stages because, like Connie, they were not aware of the symptoms that could have alerted them. Connie’s legacy lives on with the Connie Rutledge Legacy Fund (CRLF), which provides ongoing support to women with all gynecological cancers, administered by WOCA.