Northwestern State University is joining Turn Teal Natchitoches to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and support National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The university Columns will be lit in teal every night this week and several activities are planned to educate the public about ovarian cancer, the importance of knowing one’s family medical history and the effectiveness of early detection.
Students will be painting nails teal in the NSU Student Union from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22. Literature and awareness materials will be available. Turn Teal organizers will also be at Collins Pavilion for the Demon Dash at 5 p.m. Tuesday, where students will compete in a variety of relay games. Turn Teal will provide teal blue Gatorade. Turn Teal is also holding a banner contest for Registered Student Organizations.
Turn Teal will be featured during NSU Family Day on Saturday, Sept. 26 prior to the football game versus Central Arkansas. From 2 p.m. until game time, Turn Teal will be giving away teal ribbons and temporary tattoos, along with teal cotton candy and popcorn, and will host a balloon release for ovarian cancer survivors.
Last week, the Natchitoches City Council issued a proclamation in honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.
Turn Teal Natchitoches was initiated by Leah Coleman Lentz in honor of her mother, Sue Gregory Coleman, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2012.
“Seeing the Turn Teal initiative grow to this level is heart warming and wonderful,” Lentz said. “For every survivor and every woman who has lost her life to ovarian cancer – this for you.”
Stephanie Dyjack, who was instrumental in organizing this week’s events, is an ovarian cancer survivor who feels led to act for the women who’s journey ended.
“In June of 2012 my teal journey began when an ER doctor said to me the words I never expected to hear: ‘We have found a large mass in your abdomen – the Cancer Center has been called and they are waiting for you.’ I could never have imagined the impact those words would have on my life…but it was not the impact I thought,” Dyjack said.
Over several months and an extensive surgery Dyjack heard the good news that the questionable cells were contained within the two large masses that were found and safely removed.
“What did remain was the lasting impression that the women I met and sat with each week at the Willis Knighton Cancer Center had on me and my outlook on life,” she said. “The strength, determination, hope and faith that each of those women wore on their face and held within their hearts forever changed me.
“At my lowest times when I was faced with a possible second surgery as my recovery was not going as planned, my mother, who had become my champion and caregiver, would take my hand and tell me to look at the other women sitting in the waiting room, their diagnosis much different than mine and to remember how hard they were fighting and that I was not to give up nor ever forget the grace I had been given.”
For each month Dyjack was a patient at the Cancer Center, she was given a pass card for access.
“I keep those pass cards as a reminder to myself that my teal journey is not over and that I still have to fight to be a voice for awareness as Ovarian Cancer is a cruel disease, a ‘Silent Killer,’ as there are no diagnostic tools for early detection, vague symptoms that are misleading and that there is not enough awareness and education being done. I am thankful for each day that I get to tell my story and to educate my community about ovarian cancer. My voice is for the women who survived, those that fought hard but their journey has ended and for those strong, brave women who continue to “Fight like a girl,” ever full of hope for a cure.”
For information on Turn Teal Natchitoches, follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/TurnTealNatchitoches.