In 1993 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and, despite having been raised in a medical family, had never heard of a specialty called gynecologic oncology. All I knew was that Gilda Radner had had ovarian cancer and that most women who had it died. After going through the treatment regimen standard for that time, I began to search for an ovarian support group that would be similar to the breast cancer groups. Although I discovered there weren't any such groups, I did become aware of other women around the country who had embarked on the same search. We eventually met at meetings convened by the Department of Defense (DOD) to create the DOD Ovarian Cancer Research Program in 1997. An outgrowth of these acquaintances and meetings was our formation of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. The Alliance has since become the major patient advocate group pressing for federal research funds and public policies directed toward treatment of, and discovery of a screening test for, ovarian cancer.
I had the privilege of serving on the initial OCRP Scientific Peer Review Committee and have served on the Integration Panel since fiscal year 2003. My ability to learn a whole new vocabulary of medical research has been facilitated by the extraordinary generosity of the many professionals in the field of gynecologic and oncology research who give of their time to explain their work at advocate sponsored seminars and conferences.