Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Alliance Established to Make Greater Local Impact

CRANSTON, RI – After eight years operating as the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, a local family has separated from its partnership with the national organization to establish its own 501c3 nonprofit, the Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

 “We greatly appreciated our relationship with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, but by forming our own organization, we’ll be able to make a greater local impact through our awareness, education and support services efforts,” said Donna Ricci, President of the Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

Donna Ricci and John Morris were instrumental in establishing what was previously known as the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition in 2007 to honor the memory of John’s daughter Jessica, who was diagnosed at the age of 18 with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer. In 2008, Jessica lost her courageous battle with the disease at just 20-years old.

Through the organization, family and friends have continued with Jessica’s passion to raise awareness and provide education about the symptoms of ovarian cancer, particularly in light of the fact that no pre-screening test currently exists for early detection of the disease. Now operating as the Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Alliance, the organization is eager to implement new initiatives to reach more people.

Among the efforts the organization is working on, include having a greater presence in doctor and OB/GYN offices, educating young people through school presentations, and establishing a survivors education series with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance where survivors speak with medical students preparing to enter the field about the disease’s early symptoms. The group is also looking to grow the supports it offers survivors, such as connecting them with specialized in-home CNA care and other services.

“Ovarian cancer is not always at the forefront when a woman presents with symptoms,” said Donna. “But as the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers, it is imperative that we increase awareness and education— we are here to make a real difference in the community and know exactly what people are going through. Jessica would be so proud of what we’ve accomplished and what we’ll accomplish in the future.”

According to research, 1 in 71 women will develop ovarian cancer in their lifetime, and approximately 15,000 die annually from the disease. While most cases are diagnosed in the later stages when a patient’s prognosis is poor, if detected and treated early when the cancer is still confined to the ovary, the five-year survival rate is greater than 90 percent.

The Rhode Island Ovarian Cancer Alliance is run entirely by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. One-hundred percent of all funds raised by the organization, less event expenses, go directly to support awareness, education and support services efforts. Since 2008, the group has raised more than $700,000 for its work through its annual walk, held each September. For more information, visit www.riovarian.org.

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