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A message from Executive Director and co-founder Vallie Szymanski:
OCSA’s beginnings were inspired by the late Susan “the Goose” Roman whose goal was to raise awareness about the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer and save lives as she fought her own battle. In August 2009 after her diagnosis, I joined her and her husband Rick Roman and together we co-founded the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization. We reached out to Susan’s oncologist, Dr. Julian Schink, Chief of the Gynecological Division at Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago. He advocated the importance of education and early detection and the communication of the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer to women, their families and the medical community.
Our “flying goose” teal ribbon logo was created with Susan’s nickname in mind and that’s where our tie to animals began. Because of her love of animals, and the belief that her dog, Bacchus, alerted her to the fact that there was something wrong with her, we all felt bringing the human/animal bond into our awareness outreach initiatives was meaningful.
My father was a practicing veterinarian in the military so the human/animal bond and appreciation for the important role of veterinarians in public health was part of my upbringing. So in 2012, it felt natural to partner with the veterinary community through St. Charles, Illinois-based veterinarian, Kurt Klepitsch, DVM, and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) executive director, Peter Weber, MS, CAE, who both believed that the veterinary community could be valuable partners in educational outreach regarding ovarian cancer’s silent symptoms. We were also introduced to Roger Mahr, DVM and former CEO of the One Health Commission at this time, and his organization supported OCSA’s innovative veterinary outreach program as a solid example of how collaboration between multiple health science professions working locally, nationally, and globally can together help attain optimal health for people, animals, plants, and our environment.
While we have lost our friend and co-founder, Susan, to this disease, we remain committed to raising awareness about the silent symptoms of this deadly disease. With your volunteer and financial support, we will continue to embrace innovative awareness initiatives in an effort to save lives.