In May 2001, Karen Mason was diagnosed with stage IIIC epithelial ovarian cancer. Karen was a registered nurse (RN) with over 20 years of experience in an intensive care unit, but at the time of her own diagnosis she did not know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. In the days, months, and years that followed, she learned much about the disease and, importantly, that involvement was a great coping mechanism: She gained a wealth of information and discovered a world of empowerment in the ovarian cancer community.
Karen became active with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) and currently sits on the Advisory Council for the Philadelphia NOCC. She is also a member of South Jersey NOCC, serving as the "Talk It Ovar" representative-she speaks to newly diagnosed women and their families, offering them hope and support. She also brings national legislative issues to the attention of NOCC members so that they can lobby effectively for research funding as well as education and awareness of this cancer. In 2002, Karen was featured as the Survivor Speaker in Philadelphia's annual Walk for the Whisper.
Working with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), through whom she stays current on the relevant legislative issues, Karen lobbies representatives in both the U.S. House and Senate. As a contributor to OCNA's program "Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women's Lives," Karen and other survivors are working to put, and keep, ovarian cancer on the radar of future physicians by speaking to third-year medical students entering their ob/gyn rotation. At the 2008 OCNA Conference, Karen received the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Leadership Award.
Two years ago, Karen became the second patient advocate for the Fox Chase Cancer Center Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE). Currently, she is a member of their institutional review board, where she reviews consent forms for clinical trials, providing the unique experience and perspective of a cancer patient.
In the fall of 2007, Karen became a member of the Integration Panel for the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program. As a member of this panel, Karen has a voice in recommending how research dollars are spent and determining what areas of research will be funded in the next fiscal year.
Today, Karen continues to work as an RN in intensive care and employee health. She and her husband, Jim, reside in Pitman, New Jersey, and have raised two sons, Jeff and Tim. Since her diagnosis of ovarian cancer, 7 years ago, when she embarked on a journey of involvement in the ovarian cancer community, Karen Mason has not only developed a strong and robust voice for ovarian cancer advocacy but is recognized as an effective and dynamic leader in that community.