Sigma Alpha Omega raises awareness for ovarian cancer


The Appalachian Online

Chamian Cruz

Sigma Alpha Omega works throughout the academic year to spread awareness about ovarian cancer, and the sorority has recently started raising money for Relay For Life for the event on April 24 at Appalachian State University.

Some of the work SAO has done throughout the year includes hosting events and fundraisers to create awareness, donating money to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and raising money for the sorority to continue holding events in the future.

“Right now we have a Comeback Shack fundraiser for the sorority, so that we can support things like ovarian cancer awareness and to be able to have events to not only benefit the sisters, but to benefit other organizations for a good cause,” said Allison Whitaker, junior elementary education major and fundraising chair of SAO.

Some of the funds raised from the Comeback Shack fundraiser will go to OCNA, said Emily Carter, senior psychology major and public relations chair for SAO.

Last year, SAO raised over $500 for Relay For Life. So far this year they have raised $180, said Alexa Roseman, junior social work major and service chair of SAO.

Unlike breast cancer, ovarian cancer is not widely talked about, but it accounts for about three percent of cancers among women and causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Ovarian cancer is actually more common than breast cancer, but you get huge foundations like Susan G. Komen that radiate breast cancer awareness,” said Jodi Hoagland, junior biology major and philanthropy chair for SAO. “One of the things we’re trying to do is support the things that people don’t know as much about.”

Ovarian cancer is a growth of abnormal malignant cells that begin in the ovaries and begin as tumors that can either be cancerous or noncancerous, according to OCNA.

Noncancerous tumors do not spread to other parts of the body, but cancerous tumors can spread to other organs in the pelvis and abdomen or to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymph nodes.

Among the factors that increase the risk of getting ovarian cancer are obesity, women over the age of 63, women who have never or have not carried a child to term after the age of 35, talcum powder that touches the genitals and history of breast cancer or other cancer types since ovarian cancer is hereditary, according to the American Cancer Society.

“As far as the importance of Relay For Life, a couple of our sisters have been directly impacted by family members who have passed away from cancer,” Roseman said. “We are a family, so it is vital that we stick together and raise money to show our love and support for those who need it the most.”

As a Christian sorority, SAO spreads their mission – spreading God’s love through sisterhood, encouragement of spiritual development and participation in evangelical and philanthropic endeavors – by also visiting patients in the Watauga Medical Center who have ovarian cancer.

“We write hospital cards for the patients, so we’ve gotten to meet quite a few people with ovarian cancer,” Hoagland said. “It is a unifying experience for us and it also helps them.”

Another one of the sorority’s projects this semester will be sending letters to Congress, thanking them for their donations to the Omnibus Fund, which raises money to support research that is being done on ovarian cancer.

This semester, the sorority is also planning to raise awareness by hosting events at Appalachian’s baseball games where they will be passing out ribbons, information cards and have a donation jar available.

“It’s not just the sorority making money – it’s the campus knowing what’s going on and giving them the opportunity to participate,” Hoagland said. “I think our main goal is to get the whole campus involved, not just the sorority.”

Recent research has led to a few breakthroughs, such as getting closer to identifying the exact risk factors and causes of ovarian cancer, prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, according to the American Cancer Society.

“I don’t think research will ever end unless there is one solid cure-all, which there usually isn’t,” Hoagland said. “I think that as long as we can participate and as long as we can help and continue that research and continue the progress, I think we’re doing the best we can with it.”

STORY: Chamian Cruz, Intern News Reporter