(Contest Nominee) COLORADO OVARIAN CANCER ALLIANCE Strives for Life-Saving Early Detection of Commonly Overlooked Disease

Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance is one of seven nominated charities for the next Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place from December 1-14, 2012. The Denver/Boulder community is invited to participate by voting on Facebook and spreading the word about these seven Colorado causes. The top charity will receive $5,000 and the public can enter to win 1 of 10 prizes.

COCAOvarian cancer is not the easiest topic to work into a conversation, but the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) is trying hard to get people comfortable with the idea of bringing up the subject. Why? Because although it’s the deadliest of all gynecological cancers, people know very little about it — and it’s commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed by medical professionals.

“Breast cancer groups have done such a good job of making mammograms and breast exams easier to talk about – even professional football players promote the cause,” explains Pep Torres, executive director of COCA. “But with reproductive cancers and women’s ovaries, there’s more of the old mentality… and there’s not that level of comfort.”

About 20,000 women are diagnosed in the US with ovarian cancer every year and 330 of those cases are in Colorado. Because the vast majority of cases are not caught until Stage 3 or 4 of the disease, the five-year survival rate for many diagnoses is only 35%.

“It’s a very dangerous disease, “ says Torres. “We think it’s very important to elevate the conversation.”

Consider this: if the disease is caught in Stages 1 or 2, the survival rate jumps to 93%.

That’s why COCA’s mission, which is to provide support and to promote awareness and early detection of ovarian cancer through advocacy and education, is such a vital one to women. They strive to educate women, and healthcare professionals, about the disease, especially about the symptoms, which can be easily attributed to other digestive disorders and bladder issues.

Spotting these warning signs, which include abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, decreased appetite and urinary urgency, is especially important because there are currently no reliable screening methods. COCA urges all women to pay attention to their symptoms and contact their gynecologist if they persist.

COCA also strives to get the word out about risk factors, which include a family history of either breast or ovarian cancer, and an inherited gene mutation called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Additionally, your risk also increases if you’ve had a previous cancer diagnosis, never had children, and are post-menopausal.

In addition to elevating the conversation and educating women about the disease, COCA also provides comfort and support for those in treatment. Nicki’s Circle support groups are free and specifically dedicated to ovarian cancer . COCACares is the only financial assistance program in the country that provides monthly help with basic needs such as food and rent for qualifying women that are in treatment.

“The disease can be so debilitating, many women can’t work so they’re in great need of aid,” explains Torres.

COCA has partnerships with several gynecological oncologists and other medical institutions in the state. Through these collaborations, COCA is able to distribute comfort kits filled with comforting items like a blanket, warm socks and tea, plus educational and support information, to women diagnosed in the state of Colorado.

COCA also hosts public events to raise awareness and funds. In June 2010, COCA held the first Jodi’s Race for Awareness. The initial event had a record number of participants for a first-time race, enabling COCA to raise about $100,000. The two subsequent races each held the first Saturday in June were similarly successful.  The group’s next  Jodi’s Race will be on Saturday, June 1, 2013 at City Park.  COCA invites the general public to participate in the event.

A $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks would help COCA create a resource directory for inclusion in the comfort kits. This directory would include information on nutrition, exercise, clinical trials, etc. “It would contain all the information necessary for their cancer journey,” explains Torres.

For more information about the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, and ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.Colo-OvarianCancer.org.

Vote to Give Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a Colorado owned, Front Range focused bank, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with COCA. Through its Charity Hand-Up Contest, the bank is spotlighting the great work and ongoing needs of local charities Vote in Charity Hand-Up Contestaround metro Denver. Based on the results of a 14-day vote on Facebook, the community will determine how $7,500 is split among seven Colorado charities nominated by Citywide Banks employees. The charity receiving the most votes will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $1,000. The remaining donation amounts will correspond to the voting results for each nominated charity. The voting public can also enter to win 1 of 10 prizes, including dinner for two at a couple of Denver’s top-rated restaurants. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here.

How to Cast Your Vote – December 1 -14, 2012
The voting will take place at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to make sure they are logged into their personal Facebook account. If a user doesn’t have an account, it only takes minutes to set up a new Facebook account and it’s free. The online voting form will only be accessible for Citywide Banks Facebook Fans. To become a Fan, simply click on the “Like” button on top of any of the pages on Citywide’s Facebook Fan Page at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Then, click on the link for the ”Charity Contest” tab to access the online voting page. Each Facebook account will be permitted one vote during the 14-day voting period.

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