Ready, Set, Cycle

JCC to host ovarian cycle ride

By Deb Silverthorn

Helen Gardner, Julie Shrell and Jill Bach are cycling for their lives, and all others affected by ovarian cancer. This threesome is chairing the February 19, 2012 Ovarian Cycle Ride to Change the Future. To register to ride or to make a donation, visit ovariancycledallas.org. | Photo submitted by JCC

Wheels are spinning, legs are pedaling and “donate now” buttons are being proudly displayed as the Dallas JCC prepares to host the first-ever Ovarian Cycle Ride to Change the Future. Training for the Feb. 19, 2012 ride — with the mission to raise funds for and promote awareness of ovarian cancer — begins Saturday, Oct. 1, with the event’s first training ride.
“It’s time for us to bring awareness to our guests and to the greater community on what they can to do to help find a cure and to pay closer attention to themselves and those they love,” said Jon Mize, director of fitness and wellness at the Aaron Family JCC, of the February event.
The indoor spin-cycling event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Furthermore, the event is climate controlled and has restrooms nearby, allowing for participation by experienced as well as novice riders.
“It’s not just about ovarian cancer. Cancer — in all of its forms — is consuming our population,” Mize said. “As a fitness and wellness facility, being a part of the awareness campaign is where we need to be.”
Training rides with JCC instructors, (free with a $40 registration to the event), are Nov. 5 and Dec. 3 in addition to the one taking place in October.
Official training dates for the Ride to Change the Future are Jan. 14, 15, 21, 28, 29 and Feb. 4, 11, 12.
Membership at the JCC is not required to participate in the training or the Feb. 19 event, which will take place in the JCC’s Zale Auditorium.
Spin bikes will be available for all riders through the J’s own spin-cycling program, with additional bikes, as necessary, borrowed from local agencies.
Riders may participate on their own, with a $500/rider fundraising minimum, or they may form a team with up to six participants, each with a $250 donation minimum.
“This ride hit a note with us here at the J. This is a very important program and we are very interested in participating in national programs that fit our mission of fitness and wellness,” said Artie Allen, president of the Aaron Family JCC.
The Ride to Change the Future is the first fundraising event sponsored by the JCC in which all donations are made to an outside organization. “This is for the greater good of our community; a national issue and one that has, and continues to have, a great local impact,” Allen added.
Chairing the event are Jill Bach, Helen Gardner and Julie Shrell, whose stories of struggle and survival are very different.
“I had no symptoms [of ovarian cancer] and I was diagnosed at Stage 4, I’m really very lucky,” said Bach, a member of Congregation Shearith Israel, and the wife of Alan and mother of Alicia and Michelle.
Bach, diagnosed in 2007 after being checked for a “cough,” just celebrated four years of remission. That cough led to a chest x-ray which, in turn, revealed issues with one of her lungs. Those issues were later found to be large fluid build-up caused by ovarian cancer tumors found in the lining of her lung.
With no family history of any cancer, and annual exams for general and gynecological health that were always clear, Bach couldn’t have been more surprised.
“I’ve had surgery, chemo and more surgery. I tested positive for the BRCA gene and that’s important for my daughters to know,” she said. “I’m alive for a purpose and I want to make the most of that.
“This is it, it’s the life we have and you have to make the best of it. Thank God I’m able to be there to raise hope, and to raise money,” said Gardner, a member of Temple Emanu-El and the wife of Gary and mother of Brent and Karis. Gardner, who had surgeries, participated in a clinical trial in Florida and underwent radiation, now awaits upcoming chemotherapy treatments.
Not feeling “right” less than 12 months after a regular checkup in 2009, Gardner went back to her doctor who recommended a colonoscopy, “just to rule things out.” Before that appointment date arrived, Gardner, a marathon runner, biker and self-proclaimed healthiest person around, found lymph nodes where she shouldn’t have felt anything.
“My only connection to this is my Aunt Shirley who was diagnosed in her forties,” Gardner said. “Thank G-d she’s celebrated thirty-something birthdays since then. We’re strong and sitting at home ‘waiting’ isn’t an option.”
Meanwhile Shrell, long associated with Congregation Anshai Torah and Congregation Shearith Israel, and the wife of Rob and mother of Marissa, Simone and Gavin, was diagnosed last October with Stage 3C ovarian cancer, during a hysterectomy prompted by a CA-125 blood test.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and “a stronger will than could be imagined,” said Shrell, have her readying to bike her way to raising money for the cause. “This year I celebrated my son’s bar mitzvah and kvelled at my daughters’ high school graduations. Moments like those should never be missed and I’m lucky I was diagnosed when I was and that I had the support team, medically and the ‘village’ of my friends and family, to help me through it all.”
Each of the event’s chairs proposed the relationship between Ovarian Cycle and the J, “a perfect storm with a synergy that is perfect for us,” said Mize, whose staff will donate their time for the training and the day of the event. “Anyone can ride a bike, or learn how, and we’re excited to have riders of all levels.”
Bach, riding with “Teal Riders,” Gardner with “Cancer Sucks” and Shrell with “Wheel to Survive,” are hoping for all teams’ donations to reach a minimum of $100,000.
Monies raised for the six-hour Ride to Change the Future will benefit ovarian cancer research through donations to Ovarian Cycle, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and the Clearity Foundation.
The Clearity Foundation seeks to improve treatment outcomes in recurrent and progressive patients by providing diagnostic services that determine their molecular profile. Having this profile may help patients select an appropriate clinical trial or other treatment.
The Clearity Foundation also provides financial support for profiling work for those who are unable or not covered by insurance.
Not all ovarian cancers are the same and not all treatments are the same,” Shrell said, adding that women really need to listen to their bodies and to share any concerns with their doctors. “We’ll be out there fighting for them all.”
“For myself, remission is around the corner — I’m betting on it. Jill, Julie and I have brought together our experiences and our goals,” Gardner said. “Early detection, cures, and better treatment — that’s what this program is all about.”
For more information, email ovariancycledallas@gmail.com or to donate, or register to ride, visit ovariancycledallas.org.
Deb Silverthorn, now a sponsor of the event’s “G&E’s Biker Chicks & Jonah” team, was inspired by the women interviewed as well as a friend who lost a most courageous battle. As you finish reading, she hopes you are encouraged to make a difference for those who fought, those who are fighting, and the generations we pray and we ride for that we hope will never have to fight at all.

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological cancer affecting one in 70 women. Today more than 70 percent of ovarian cancer patients will die of their disease, compared to less than 20 percent of breast cancer patients.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92 percent.
Unfortunately, symptoms are vague and subtle so most patients are diagnosed at later stages and less than 50 percent will survive longer than 5 years after their diagnosis.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer, which can be vague and not always gynecologic include:

  • A swollen or bloated abdomen or increased girth
  • Persistent pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary concerns, such as urgency or frequency
  • Change in bowel habits with constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Any woman may have these symptoms for reasons not related to ovarian cancer. But if these symptoms are new and unusual, and persist for more than two weeks, a woman should see her doctor. Prompt attentions may lead to detection of the disease at its earliest stagy and with its best prognosis.

Factors that may increase the risk of ovarian cancer:

  • Personal or family history of cancer (especially ovarian or breast cancer)
  • Testing positive for either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Age over 55
  • No pregnancies
  • Menopausal hormone replacement therapy
  • Endometriosis

Information provided by www.ovariancycle.org

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