Category Archives: 'Ovarian Cancer News'

Ovarian Cancer and Social Security Disability

April 30, 2015

Written by guest blogger Deanna Power

An ovarian cancer diagnosis is hard to accept, and is hard physically, emotionally, and financially to deal with. Ovarian cancer affects women of all ages, and is often diagnosed at a late stage. Because of this, many women with ovarian cancer need aggressive forms of treatment and are unable to continue working. The costs for the different types of treatment required for ovarian cancer can add up quickly, including a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, and other drug and hospital charges. Without insurance, these costs can quickly rise to over $200,000. Although many insurance plans cover ovarian cancer treatments, they do not cover all drugs or treatments available. Due to the hardships thousands of women face every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for hundreds of conditions, including ovarian cancer.

How to Medically Qualify with Ovarian Cancer

The SSA evaluates all applicants with a medical guide called the Blue Book, which has listings for various conditions, symptoms, and disability benefit qualifications. An ovarian cancer diagnosis is listed under  section 13.23E  of the Blue Book. This includes all tumors except germ-cell tumors, with tumor extension beyond the pelvis (i.e. peritoneal, omental, or bowel surfaces), metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes, and/or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy or germ-cell tumors that are progressive or recurrent following initial antineoplastic therapy.

More severe forms of ovarian cancer that also have distant metastases or are inoperable (a physician’s opinion that surgery will not be beneficial) or unresectable (the cancer is still present after surgery). If your ovarian cancer has progressed this far, it is listed on the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances List (CAL). The CAL is a list of conditions that are eligible for almost immediate approval, because the symptoms are so serious that patients can’t wait the one to two years of a normal SSD approval. Applicants with inoperable ovarian cancer or distant metastases can expect to be approved in as little as 10 days.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits Available

The SSA offers two types of disability benefits for women with ovarian cancer. The first form of benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), is based on how long you’ve worked, how much you’ve paid into Social Security in taxes, and your previous income. Those over the age of 31 generally need to have worked and paid Social Security taxes for any five of the last ten years before applying. CAL approvals often happen in just a few weeks, but a typical SSDI application can take up to two years for an approval. Whether or not your ovarian cancer is approved under CAL, you need to wait five months after the onset date for monthly payments to start. If decisions on claims take longer than five months, you would be paid through a lump-sum check for those missed months upon approval. After being approved for SSDI, you will automatically be approved for Medicare two years after you start receiving benefits.

The second type of disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is an income supplement funded by general federal tax revenue instead of Social Security taxes. SSI has strict financial limits, but no required work history. Because of this, it is the best option for adults with low resources or who haven’t worked throughout their lives. SSI benefits can start being paid to a woman with ovarian cancer the first month after applying, so long as she financially qualifies. A single applicant’s countable income must be less than $733 per month, with less than $2,000 in assets (stocks, bonds, life insurance, etc.). A couple can’t make more than $1,100 of countable income per month and must have less than $3,000 in assets. The SSA will not include one house, one car, or other personal items such as wedding ring when evaluating an applicant’s assets. SSI recipients in most states are eligible to receive Medicaid.

Applying for Social Security Disability

To apply for disability benefits with ovarian cancer, you will need a birth certificate, tax information, thorough medical information and other documents. It is important to include as much thorough medical evidence as possible for ovarian cancer applications, including medical records, lab results, and written statements from your physicians. The amount of time that it takes for the SSA to come a decision on your claim depends primarily on how quickly they can get medical evidence from your doctor and whether another medical exam is necessary for approval.

For a complete checklist on what you’ll need to apply for disability benefits, review the Adult Disability Starter Kit  on the SSA’s website. SSDI applications can be completed online, but SSI applications must be completed in person, so be sure to make an appointment with your local SSA office.

If you have already applied for disability benefits for ovarian cancer and your application was denied, you can appeal the decision. If you were denied for medical reasons, you can fill out  the Appeal Request and Appeal Disability Report or contact your local Social Security office in person or 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 for TTY.


Deanna Power is the Community Outreach Manager at Social Security Disability Help. She assists people with disabilities with the application process for Social Security benefits, from initially submitting paperwork to keeping benefits after approval. She has been featured on numerous disability resources such and She lives in Boston, MA with her hamster.

Categories: Blog, HERA News, Ovarian Cancer News

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Breaking News – Ovarian Cancer Research Dream Team Selected

April 21, 2015

Board President (far left) Samantha Lockwood and Collaborating Partners

Board President (far left) Samantha Lockwood and Collaborating Partners

Stand Up to Cancer Ovarian Cancer Dream Team Announced

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Scientific Partner to SU2C, announced today the formation of a Dream Team devoted to ovarian cancer research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015, held in Philadelphia.

HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation is contributing $200,000 to this effort because of your support. Thank you. This is an opportunity that will have great impact for the ovarian cancer community as a whole, and we are thrilled to be one of the organizations collaborating in this effort. For the thousands of women and families affected by ovarian cancer who are looking to the world of science for answers, innovative research is the best hope for achieving better outcomes.

Our focus at HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation is eliminating ovarian cancer by funding scientific research grants. The Stand Up to Cancer Ovarian Cancer collaborative effort allows HERA to better leverage every dollar raised for this partnership. Our participation in this effort would not be possible without you. Thank you for your unwavering support in what we do. Your support means the world to every life that has been affected by this insidious disease.

I hope you will share this news with family and friends who have supported us and take pride in our accomplishments together.   Read on…

Collaborating organizations, including HERA, will collectively devote $6 million over three years to a project entitled “DNA Repair Therapies for Ovarian Cancer.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year approved the drug olaparib to treat women with advanced ovarian cancer associated with defective BRCA genes, which are among a number of DNA repair genes identified as mutated in ovarian cancer. The existence of defects in DNA repair has emerged as a common weakness in ovarian cancer. By targeting DNA repair pathways, the Dream Team hopes to build and expand on the recent clinical advances seen with olaparib and other PARP inhibitors in current clinical trials.

The team will also focus on prevention and early detection of ovarian cancer, which tends to be diagnosed at a late stage of the disease.

Alan D’Andrea, MD, co-director of the Gene Therapy Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and the Fuller-American Cancer Society professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will lead the Dream Team. Elizabeth M. Swisher, MD, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington in Seattle, will be co-leader.

In addition to the team leaders, the project will involve researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; University of Chicago; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Thank you for your unwavering support!

Full Press Release

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Flaws Found in Ovarian Cancer Treatment

March 12, 2013

New York Times

March 12, 2013

Click here to read the on-line article.


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February 7, 2012

Four Colorado Non-Profits Working Together to Promote Early Detection, Research, Outreach and Support Services

The Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, the Cheryl Shackelford Foundation, the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Foundation and the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation have formed a new consortium – The Ovarian Cancer Task Force (OCTF).  Their goal is to save women’s lives by supporting the efforts of partner groups to raise awareness of ovarian cancer through education including the promotion of early detection, as well as research, outreach, support services and other means.

The new task force is part of the Colorado Cancer Coalition (CCC) and will be led by Guadalupe (Pep) Torres, Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) Executive Director.

Every 40 hours one woman in Colorado dies from ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in females in the United States but it is the deadliest gynecologic cancer.  The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,280 women in the United States will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2012 and that 15,500 women will die from the disease.

In their organization’s mission statement, each of the OCTF members stresses the importance of raising awareness.  They know that deaths can be prevented by greater recognition of ovarian cancer symptoms and earlier diagnosis.   If the disease is found in an early stage, up to 90 percent of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will survive for more than five years.  Unfortunately, over 80 percent of diagnosed cases are in stage III/IV, when the disease has already spread beyond the ovaries. 

There is no universally-accepted screening test for ovarian cancer – and the Pap test does not check for ovarian cancer – so being able to recognize the symptoms is critical to saving lives.  Symptoms of ovarian cancer include suddenly occurring and persistent bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary urgency or frequency.  However, the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and may not be specific or severe, so often women do not seek medical attention and health professionals fail to diagnose it early.

The Task Force is already discussing plans for an Ovarian Cancer Summit in September 2012.

The Ovarian Cancer Task Force Member Organizations:

The Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance

The mission of COCA is to promote awareness about ovarian cancer through advocacy, education and support.  COCA’s goals are to advocate for women with ovarian cancer, and for ovarian cancer awareness, through participation in activities at the local, state and national levels; to educate women, families, doctors and health care providers about early detection of ovarian cancer through Survivors Teaching Students™ and COCA Speakers Bureau; and to support survivors through offering ongoing Nicki’s Circle Ovarian Cancer Support Groups.   To learn more about COCA and its work, click here.

The Cheryl Shackelford Foundation

Cofounded by and named in honor of a 20-year survivor of ovarian cancer, CSF is committed to raising public awareness and educating women in the state of Colorado regarding the symptoms, risk factors and facts about ovarian cancer. CSF’s goals are to increase the rate of early detection of ovarian cancer and assist those women diagnosed with the disease in a supportive role.  To learn more about CSF and its work, click here.

Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Foundation

Sue DiNapoli, a resident of El Paso County, enjoyed a life filled with family, friends, volunteer work and fun. With a contagious laugh and a remarkable spirit, her upbeat attitude and determination helped her battle ovarian cancer for more than 5-1/2 years. Proceeds of the Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Foundation help low income and under-insured women in the Pikes Peak area with screening and early detection of ovarian cancer. To learn more about the Foundation and its work, click here.

HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation:

The HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research, and Awareness.  As a nationally recognized ovarian cancer organization, HERA provides funding for cutting-edge research grants to scientists at respected medical institutions.  In so doing, HERA attracts more young researchers to expand the scientific understanding of ovarian cancer while improving the lives of those battling the disease.  In addition, HERA awards grants to local community groups to raise awareness about the disease in novel and unusual ways.  More information is available at

Categories: Blog, HERA News, Ovarian Cancer News

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HERA Kicks Off 10th Anniversary

January 25, 2012

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation.  What better way to kick off the celebration than with the debut of a new documentary, “Climb for Life:  A Legacy,” about HERA’s founder, Sean Patrick.

KUED in Salt Lake City produced the 30-minute film which premiered during Outdoor Retailer market on Thursday, January 19.  Over 80 guests gathered at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art to share memories of Sean, chat about the Climb4Life events, and enjoy this engaging film about an engaging woman.  In establishing the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation, Sean gathered a community, became a catalyst for change, and continues, even after her death, to inspire the critical quest for ovarian cancer research and awareness.  The HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation is deeply committed to continuing her work and carrying forth her legacy.

DVDs of the documentary will be available soon.  Our thanks to KUED for creating this inspiring film and to our screening sponsor, Black Diamond.

The HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation offers a series of fun, creative events throughout the year.  Join us at one or more in 2012 to celebrate our 10th. You can also help by being part of our $10 for 10 Campaign.  Donate $10 per month for the entire year and help us carry on Sean’s legacy.  Click here to make your recurring donation now!

Categories: Blog, HERA News, Ovarian Cancer News

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We Won!

December 21, 2011

We Won!  Congress Funds Ovarian Cancer Research and Education

Great news came out of Washington, DC yesterday.  Congress has passed an omnibus appropriations bill for this fiscal year to fund ovarian cancer research and education!  The funding includes $5 million for Johanna’s Law: The Gynecologic Education and Awareness Act; $4.9 million for the Ovarian Cancer Control Initiative, and $16 million for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program run by the Department of Defense.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) fought hard to bring about this legislation.  Thanks to the HERA community for making calls, sending e-mails, and talking to your elected representatives.  You made a huge difference!

Click here to read the OCNA announcement.

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“Climb for Life” Documentary Premieres at OR

December 9, 2011

KUED in Salt Lake City is producing a new documentary on HERA’s founder, Sean Patrick, to be released in January 2012.  “Climb for Life:  A Legacy” will premiere during Outdoor Retailer market on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 S. West Temple.    Please join us for this special preview screening as we celebrate Sean’s life and work.  In establishing the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation, she gathered a community, became a catalyst for change, and continues, even after her death, to inspire the critical quest for ovarian cancer research and awareness.  Seating is limited and reservations are required by calling 801-585-3523 or email

Our thanks to KUED for creating the documentary and to our screening sponsor, Black Diamond!

For a sneak peek at the documentary, click here.

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RLAG Raises Over $16K

October 29, 2011

Thanks to our partners at Run Like a Girl, over $16,000 was raised for the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation in 2011. Mark Junkermann, Theresa Marie Green, and their hard-working volunteers organized four incredible “women’s only” running events in North Carolina and Virginia. The hundreds of women who participated in RLAG enjoyed four beautiful days of fun, friendship, and inspiration while also raising funds to benefit HERA. These funds will support HERA’s scientific research grant and community awareness grant programs to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer.

Our deepest appreciation to everyone who ran or donated to HERA; your support and generosity are amazing! We’ll see you next year for Run Like a Girl 2012!

Run Like a Girl 8k from Jason Faulkner on Vimeo.

Categories: Blog, HERA News, Ovarian Cancer News

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A Promise is a Promise

August 1, 2011

By Dick Haviland

A number of years ago my family (a wife of 34 years, four daughters and one son) had a remarkable experience that fulfilled a promise I made.  I was working in Scotland in my full time job while completing the manuscript for a book about the true story of finding my biological father at age 35.

During the time I was working there, a delightful English couple, Susan and Vincent Wright, became close friends. Sue was an avid reader and when I told them about the book she asked if I would let her read the manuscript.  A few weeks later she called me to offer encouragement, said she loved the story, and was going to make sure her reader’s club bought it when it came out.  I promised her the first signed copy outside of my immediate family. 

A few months before publication, Sue was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer with only a short time to live.  My wife and I flew to the north of England to be with her to say good-bye.  While there she told me she just knew the book would do well and touch people who know the power of love, loss and family.  We all had a good cry together and I promised her that I would donate the royalties to Ovarian Cancer Research.  Vince circulated the book and took up the cause and now, every year, there is a 5k run/walk event for Ovarian Cancer research in her memory.  A promise is a promise and I continue to find every possible way to contribute royalties to Ovarian Cancer Research.

Here is how you can help the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation be part of that promise.

1.  If you order the book from my publisher, Infinity Publishing, 100% of my royalties will be donated to HERA.  Be sure you are using the right website because there is also a buybookontheweb site, but that one is not Infinity Publishing.

2. You can also order the book from Amazon and 100% of my royalties will be donated but the royalty with Amazon is about half of the royalty from Infinity.

Please feel free to read the reviews on Amazon and Infinity AND add your own review on both sites after you read the book . . . that always creates more interest.  Also, I am working with Infinity Publishing to see if they will allow us to make the book available for even more fundraising by allowing HERA to buy the book at wholesale price and sell it at retail. If they will do that, we can raise almost $8 per book and I will add 100% of my royalties on top of that.  If I am successful, we might be able to make it available to your book groups and at HERA events in the future.

Thanks so much for helping me fulfill my promise.  I know Sue is smiling down on all of us.

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Life Day

February 15, 2011

By Samantha Lockwood, Vice President, HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation Board of Directors

It’s February in the middle of a cold winter.  It’s the time of year when most of my friends are yearning for spring so we can get out and climb or ride bikes or go for a long walk without putting on fifteen layers of clothing.  This year, I’m yearning for a roof deck, as well.  But this time of year I always stop and take some time to reflect about what I do have, even in the dead of winter.  Anniversaries force reflection even if you try to ignore them; the memories sneak up on you.

February 16, 2005 was a day that changed my life.  I went in for routine surgery to have an ovarian cyst removed, and everything changed.  I had started out the year on a mission to get my life in order:  pay my bills on time, get to work 30 minutes early, and get all of my annual medical checkups done.  First up was the gynecologist.  He felt a mass and suggested I go for an ultrasound.  The ultrasound led to an MRI, which led to the recommendation for elective surgery, but no one said it was urgent.  No one thought it was cancer.  In fact, my doctor told me that I was too young for cancer.  I was 30 years old.  Through a series of crazy good luck occurrences, I found my way to a specialist.  A climbing friend, who was also a doctor, strongly encouraged me to see the best gyn-oncologist surgeon around because “no surgery is routine, so why not have someone who does this kind of thing three times a week vs. three times a year?”  Seemed like solid advice even though I had never heard of a gyn-oncologist.

It’s amazing how many odd details I remember from the morning of my surgery.  My mom came to Philly for the procedure, and she met my boyfriend for the first time.  I remember the three of us walking to the subway and my mom being impressed that Mark could eat his yogurt while we walked so briskly.  When we left the subway in West Philly and walked to the hospital, I remember noticing blood stains on the street.  I guessed someone had been shot and bled on his way to the hospital.  I remember thinking blood was a bad sign and wishing we had driven 

When I woke up from surgery my dad, mom, and Mark were all there with brave faces.  They told me the doctor had to take out an ovary because “it looked a little funny.”  I flipped out.  I had been adamant that I wanted to keep all my “stuff,” and I started screaming about how they “stole my ovary”.  Morphine is an interesting drug.

No one told me until the next day that I had cancer.  The doctor came in early with two students.  He told me it was cancer, then touched my foot, and they left.  I was alone and confused.  My mom arrived a few minutes later, followed by Mark who told me he loved me and that he was not going anywhere.

So, that’s the story of my “cancerversary.”  I can’t imagine how devastated my parents and Mark must have been when the doctor told them the news.  I just can’t.  I was the lucky one who got to find out while I was in the haze of post-op painkillers.

While I spend a few minutes reflecting every year, I don’t dwell.  Remembering what I almost lost reminds me of how much I have.  Instead, I take the time to celebrate.  I don’t care much for the term “cancerversary” because it has the word cancer in it, so I renamed February 16th “Life Day.”  Life Day is like a birthday, and it must be celebrated!

I love my life, even in the winter, even without a roof deck.  I have got everything I need.  I’m able bodied, I can put on fifteen layers of clothes and go out to ride my bike with my husband, Mark, or we can go climbing inside until the weather breaks; the roof deck will happen someday.  If I never got diagnosed on February 16th, 2005, I would not be alive today.  I was told back then I only had a 50% chance of living 5 years.  It is now Year Number 6, thank you very much. 

So this Wednesday night, I won’t cry over the terrible day that happened 6 years prior.  Instead, I will be celebrating everything I’ve got.  I’ll be eating cake, drinking fancy beer, and thinking about how incredibly LUCKY I was 6 years ago to be diagnosed early and finding my way to a gyn-oncologist for my surgery. 

I want every woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer to be as lucky as I am.  I want us all to have many, many life days.  That’s why I am so proud to help HERA with its mission to stop the loss of women to ovarian cancer through Health, Empowerment, Research and Awareness.  Every woman needs to empower herself to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to find the right doctor.  For those of us who have survived this experience and come out stronger on the other side, don’t forget to celebrate your own Life Day with or without a roof deck.

Categories: Blog, Ovarian Cancer News


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