On Mother’s Day, ovarian cancer survivor Nancy Intagliata will be joined by two of her three children and three of her four grandsons as the family celebrates the special occasion. Four weeks later, the number of extended family members and friends coming together to cheer her on will swell to more than 100 when the “Nancy’s So Ovary It” team, organized by Intagliata’s daughter, Kimberly Danielson, participates in the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance’s Jodi’s Race for Awareness. This is the fifth year for the race, which will take place in Denver’s City Park on Saturday, June 7.
“It’s a fun day,” says Intagliata. “We look forward to it every year.” The 2014 Race for Awareness will be the third consecutive time the former teacher and her team participate in the annual event.
Like many women, Intagliata did not know when she began experiencing bloating and feelings of fullness that these are among the common symptoms of ovarian cancer. In September of 2011, her diagnosis was stage 3c of the disease that is the fifth most common cancer in females in the United States and the deadliest gynecologic cancer. Two and a half years later, Intagliata remains positive amid clinical trials, chemo cycles and the care of gynecologic oncologist Dr. Kevin P. Davis, M.D.
“It hasn’t been an all-bad thing,” admits Intagliata, who does not have a family history of ovarian cancer and is not a carrier of the BRCA gene. “It has made me even closer to my family and you truly get to see the goodness and generosity of people. I’ve made good friends, kept good friends and reconnected with good friends.” She describes her husband, Mike, as her rock and her children as very caring. “I’m really proud of them,” she says.
Intagliata credits her daughter with getting the family involved in Jodi’s Race for Awareness. Danielson and her husband are active runners who support worthy causes. Following her mother’s diagnosis, she “wanted to do something forward thinking and positive – to start a team for the fun of it.”
“I love this race,” says Danielson. “It really does so much for my parents.”
She did not envision “Nancy’s So Ovary It” would grow from just family to “amazingly huge;” their group included more than 100 runners and walkers of all ages at the 2013 COCA event. Nonetheless, Danielson is justifiably pleased with the results. The team has raised more than $23,000 in the last two years – and is off to a strong start in 2014, with more than $10,000 collected by mid-April, eight weeks before race day.
“I think it’s going to be a great year,” Danielson admits.
Both Intagliata and Danielson, the mother of three young boys, keep busy in the weeks prior to Jodi’s Race for Awareness. Intagliata writes a personal thank you note to everyone who contributes to their fundraising efforts, while team captain Danielson sends frequent emails to generate enthusiasm as well as additional race registrations and donations.
“We value this time beforehand as well as on the day,” Danielson says. “It is empowering and has given my mother something healthy and positive to look forward to. Solidarity is a pretty powerful thing; you can derive so much from the people around you.”
On race day Intagliata will be at the finish line to greet team members, accompanied this year by her eight-month-old grandson, who is coming to Colorado from Virginia with his parents, Intagliata’s older son and his wife. In 2013 Danielson’s twin sons, then less than a year old, joined their grandmother as finish-line greeters. Intagliata’s younger son and Danielson’s five-year-old will be among the “Nancy’s So Ovary It” runners on June 7.
“We are blessed with a phenomenal group of friends and family,” says the proud mother and grandmother.
Intagliata describes the annual COCA event as a good race. “It’s very well organized and they give you so much information,” she says. “Hopefully we can get awareness out there so more lives can be saved. Ninety percent of women don’t know the symptoms of ovarian cancer (bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary urgency or frequency).”
The first Race for Awareness, in June 2010, was inspired by Colorado native Jodi Brammeier, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. The young wife and mother believed she would have discovered the cancer earlier if she had been more aware of the symptoms. A runner herself, it became Brammeier’s goal to establish a race to raise awareness about ovarian cancer so that other women might find their cancer earlier and stand a chance to win against the deadly disease.
“Our family is so thankful to COCA and to this race,” says Danielson. “What we have gained from this is great. We are so thankful to have it and we feel so privileged and blessed to contribute. It’s an honor to support my mother is this special and meaningful way. She is the best.”
Mary Phillips, president of the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, says the nonprofit organization is likewise thankful for race enthusiasts like Intagliata and Danielson. “The families and friends of our ovarian cancer survivors, as well as those who walk or run in memory of a loved one, not only fulfill Jodi’s goal of raising awareness, but also enable COCA to deliver support and services for Colorado women who are dealing with ovarian cancer. We are grateful to each and every person who helps us fulfill our mission.”
The mission of the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance is to provide support and to promote awareness and early detection of ovarian cancer through advocacy and education. To learn more about COCA, its programs and ovarian cancer, visit www.colo-ovariancancer.org. Registration for the 2014 Jodi’s Race for Awareness is underway online at www.jodisrace.org.