West Philadelphia: Ovarian Cancer 5K Walk


While some people spent Memorial Day weekend at the shore or doing household chores others came out to help raise money for medical research on ovarian cancer through a 5K walk. It was the 7th Annual event for the Teal Ribbon Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. Over 2,000 participants and supporters were in attendance, most of them showing support to a relative battling ovarian cancer or someone who lost their battle.

Kristen Varley founded TROCRF after her own battle with ovarian cancer.

The walk began around 8:30am outside of the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park near 40th Street and Parkside Avenue. The motivation for this event held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is the founder of the Teal Ribbon Foundation. Kristen Varley, an ovarian cancer survivor herself, started the walks because of her interest in running and winning the battle against this disease that impacts an estimated one of every five women during their lifetime.

“I am a runner still but I ran all the time, did 5K’s every weekend prior to my diagnosis,” Varley explained.

Varley’s brother, Ketch Gable, was also in attendance to support his sister in her event. “This is something she does every year, Memorial Day weekend, and it’s always on a Sunday. She has her brothers and sisters here today and some nieces and nephews,” Gable said. Many other participants had their families in attendance as well, as the Foundation continues to grow.

Ketch Gable, Varley's brother, showed support at the 5K event with other family members..

Varley started the Foundation after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at an advanced stage in 2003. Ovarian cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary.

Successfully fighting this cancer after rounds of chemotherapy and radiation didn’t make Varley feel content with herself. She started the organization because she felt too many women were being diagnosed at an advanced stage, something that can be deadly. Ovarian caner is he fifth leading cause of cancer related death.

“Unfortunately, too many women are being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the advanced stage and therefore their survival rate is not great,” Varley explains. “All the money we raise from this event goes to scientists working on ovarian cancer right here in Philadelphia…[working] towards early detection.”

The annual 5K event has certainly made progress from its beginnings, leading Varley to believe more and more people are being educated on early detection. Varley said there were only several hundred people when the event first began. In 2011 over 2,000 people showed up to show their support.

A cure for this form of cancer has not been found as of yet and there’s no indications that a cure will found in the near future. However, experiencing numerous symptoms of ovarian cancer such as persistent indigestion, changes in bladder habits and a lack of energy may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Getting this disease detected at an early stage, Varley stresses, gives doctors a chance to nip it in the bud before it begins to spread around the body.