September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, so the Ovarian Cancer Connection hosted a candlelight vigil on Friday to honor those who have passed.

TOLEDO, Ohio – September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Link to ovarian cancer on Friday, a candlelight vigil was held to honor those who died from the disease.

OCC board members organized a vigil at Strawberry Acre Park in Holland, Ohio. Although participation in the event was modest, it is only the second year they have held the vigil. The organization has been in existence since 2005 and is constantly working to educate the public and help those struggling with the disease.

Joan Jewicki, OCC board president, is a 16-year survivor of ovarian cancer. She said being a support system for those battling the disease, and also organizing this vigil for those no longer battling cancer, is the least she can do for them.

“(The ovarian cancer angels) are watching us, saying, ‘Come on, girl, keep doing what you’re doing,'” Jewecki said.

Michelle Martin has a warm smile and a cheerful laugh, even after being diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer in February. She said she learned she had cancer after the traumatic experience of having one of her ovaries rupture. But she still laughs with pleasure.

“I laugh because it’s better than crying,” Martin said.

She noticed that family and friends called her much more often. Martin said he and his sister weren’t too close, but once she was diagnosed, they started talking every day.

Passing out brochures, tying blue ribbons around gate posts in the park and posting ovarian cancer health warning signs along the boardwalk are all important for public awareness, Jewecki said.

“It’s very important for women to know this,” said Dziewecki. “It’s a devastating disease, and it’s also a silent disease because the symptoms also mimic other diseases.”

Vigil attendees greeted each other warmly, smiling and laughing as they shared their stories, something OCC has a reputation for facilitating.

“That’s what’s so great about this group,” Martin said. “The survivors gave me great hope.”

In addition to holding this vigil, OCC hosts group counseling sessions for survivors and offers staff to support families and financial assistance for those undergoing treatment. Jewecki said they have given more than $20,000 worth of gas cards to women battling cancer.

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