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Interior Cancer Journal

Community Partner Spotlight: Ovarcome

In 2009, Runsi Sen found herself having to make a tough decision: whether to continue her job in corporate America, or take a leap of faith and pursue something she never thought she would be passionate about – the fight against cancer.

Just 11 months earlier, Sen’s mother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a disease that often goes undetected until it is late stage, making it much more difficult to treat.

“I didn’t know anything about ovarian cancer,” Sen recalls. “[My mother] had symptoms for years, but we weren’t educated enough to know what it was.”

After her mother passed away, Sen says it was as if a new path illuminated in front of her.

“I decided it was my life’s calling to make other people aware of this disease, and to make sure no one else would have to be in my shoes.”

Runsi SenIt was then that Sen established Ovarcome, a nonprofit organization that dedicates its time and resources to raise awareness for ovarian cancer. In addition to its awareness and outreach initiatives, Ovarcome raises funds for clinical research and provides financial assistance to underprivileged patients through its OvarCare program.

To date, the organization has given over $30,000 in financial assistance to ovarian cancer patients in partnership with 17 hospitals in 6 states, and committed to over $100,000 to ovarian cancer research.

One of Ovarcome’s hospital partners is Memorial Hermann Health System, which Sen says has been a “big friend and champion” over the years. Sylvia Brown, M.S.N., RN, OCN, CNL, Oncology Nurse Navigator at Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Texas Medical Center, sees firsthand the impact that Ovarcome’s programs have on patients.

Ovarcome - MH Nurse Navigators“There are times when patients have to choose between medications and food. Ovarcome makes that decision a little easier,” Brown said.  “I had a patient call me after receiving a care package, thrilled because she used the grocery gift card and only had to pay $5 out-of-pocket for groceries that week.  She commented that it assisted her greatly in being able to afford other necessities.”

OvarCare packages include gift cards to cover gas and grocery expenses, a $200 financial grant, $50 towards a cancer wellness boutique and spa, and the option to take advantage of a health restoration consultation. In September, Ovarcome also began piloting a new program called OvarEmbrace, which provides care packages to patients who have just finished chemotherapy. Runsi says it’s just another way of celebrating the end of a patient’s treatment.

Sen credits the organization’s success to hard work and support from the ovarian cancer community, saying “we are absolutely blessed with the encouragement, support, collaboration and faith we have received.” Ovarcome’s reach has expanded internationally in recent years, where their work is focused on general ovarian cancer awareness and sponsoring chemotherapy costs in India and Africa.

Patients eligible to receive an OvarCare package must have an ovarian cancer diagnosis, be in active treatment, meet financial eligibility guidelines, and provide income verification documentation. For more information on Ovarcome and to access the OvarCare application, please visit Ovarcome's website.