Gini Steinke – Executive Director
In 2005 the need for ovarian cancer education and awareness was growing in our community. Local medical professionals and ovarian cancer survivors were invited to see if there was an interest to form an organization that would target ovarian cancer awareness. In April, a small group of nine women joined around a table at Renee’s Survivor Shop to discuss the need and toss around ideas on how we would get the word out. Four short months later we hosted our first Awareness Walk and plans for a golf outing were underway.
Since that day over a decade ago it has become my passion to grow the OCC through education, awareness and major fundraisers, but most importantly the opportunity to help women fighting ovarian cancer. It’s an honor to provide support, community resources and financial assistance to these women. Without the full backing from our community, our volunteers and the precious board members, the Ovarian Cancer Connection could not have made such an impact in our community in such a short period of time. Thank you!
Volunteer Board Members
Joan Drzewiecki – Board President
My Ovarian Cancer was discovered by accident. With the good care provided by my GYN-Oncologist, Dr. Garth Phibbs, nursing personnel, the oncology nurses and support from my family and friends I have been very fortunate and am now an eight year survivor. I thank God every day. Therefore, I feel very compelled to pay it forward. Through various experiences and my support group I learned about the Ovarian Cancer Connection (OCC).
I am fully supportive of the mission of the OCC. Actively raising awareness, educating the community, providing assistance and advocating for testing and early diagnosis is my way to pay it forward. As a survivor and board member, I am in my small way, attempting to accomplish the mission of the OCC through various events and on-going efforts to reach out to the community. To quote Katy Perry — “You’re going to hear me ROAR.”
Amy Creque Stone
In honor and memory of my mom, who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at the age of 49, I am proud to be involved and spread the cause of the Ovarian Cancer Connection. My family participated in the first ovarian cancer walk at Oak Openings Metropark right alongside my mom – the beginning of truly making a difference. It was important to my mom that women listen to their bodies and be familiar enough with symptoms to know when something needs to be investigated.
Spreading awareness by “Teeing Off for Teal” is something close to my heart as my mom loved to golf. The outing is held in June every year. Ovarian cancer has touched so many of my friends and family and I continue to fight for all of them in the hope that a diagnostic test and ultimately a cure can be discovered.
Jeanne Wingate – Survivor
As an 18 year survivor of Ovarian Cancer, the mission of the OCC is my passion for educating and raising awareness of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer to the community. The OCC also offers an amazing Financial Assistance Program for our survivors who are in treatment and experiencing a financial need. The OCC Board Members have been a source of support and encouragement to myself and we passionately work side by side planning events throughout the year including our signature event, the Annual Ellen Jackson Walk in September. The ladies that I have met through these events over the years, including the “Let’s Talk it Ovar” Support Group, are friendships that I will cherish forever!
Sherri Denker – Volunteer Coordinator
The OCC has given me the opportunity to do something that I am very passionate about, helping ladies with ovarian and other gynecological cancers. I lost my mother in 2016 to Ovarian Cancer, and my sister is still fighting it with 9 recurrences since 2008. In 2010, I was diagnosed with Fallopian Tube Cancer after a hysterectomy in 2010, and my sister and I are both BRCA1 positive. The OCC is a great organization helping ladies struggling through treatments, and also hosting celebrations for survivors.
Nikki Knight Zmijewski
I have worked in the medical field ranging from paramedic to nurse practitioner for over 20 years. However, nothing prepared me for the battle my mom would encounter when diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in July of 2015. My mom had a complete hysterectomy 15 years prior to diagnosis of Stage IV Ovarian Cancer. I am here to share my mom’s story and to raise awareness of signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer in hopes of preventing other women from being diagnosed at such an advanced stage. My mom lost her battle in 2016, however, her legacy will live on in every woman I am able to help with her story.
Luanne Strow – Secretary
I first became aware of the Ovarian Cancer Connection in 2010 when I participated in my first OCC walk following the completion of my own treatment for ovarian cancer. I received a Stage 3C diagnosis in 2007 after months of silent symptoms that I attributed to the onset of menopause. I am extremely blessed to be a survivor. After seeing and hearing about the work of the OCC and its mission, I knew I wanted to be a part of this organization.
So it was with great pleasure and excitement that I joined the Board of Directors of the Ovarian Cancer Connection in 2017. Through the OCC, I am able to participate in outreach to spread awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease. This has been a passion of mine. I’m also able to take part in fundraising activities to help with the OCC’s financial assistance programs. This organization continues to do amazing work to support women fighting ovarian cancer.
Casaundra Fletcher – Survivor
I am a 6-year ovarian cancer survivor, I feel it is my responsibility to share my story and create awareness. Prior to my diagnosis, I didn’t know much about ovarian cancer or the symptoms related to it. Since my surgery, sadly, I’ve lost the ability to bear children. On the bright side, I have had no evidence of the disease since my surgery either. I am still being monitored and probably will be for the rest of my life. Cancer changes your life forever. You learn what’s important and what is not. You learn to have hope, faith, and gratitude. Most of all you learn to tell people you love them.
My advice to women of all ages is to listen to your bodies. If you are experiencing something different or something just not quite right, don’t dismiss it. Tell your doctor. Have a pap test and mammogram regularly. These things saved my life. They could save yours too.
Be kind, be safe, and know there is life after cancer.
In honor and memory of both my Mom and my Grandma, I became involved with the Ovarian Cancer Connection as a productive way to deal with grief. Both of these influential ladies in my life didn’t discover their disease until it was Stage 4, because we just didn’t know the symptoms. I’m passionate about changing that – because knowledge is power, and nobody can advocate more for your body than you can.
I am proud to have organized the Mary Lou Davis Memorial Glow roll, which is a really fun family night bike ride in August. Mom would have loved it – the opportunity for families to come together with silly contests about best decorated helmet, best decorated bike, and best team theme would have made her happy. Family was her priority, and a family event honors her well. Funds raised at this event help support the Financial Assistance Program for our survivors. Since I learned from Mom and Gram’s example of supporting others, this is the perfect way to honor the 2 of them.