April 11, 2014
Editor’s Note: The HERA Foundation welcomes Alicia Vivian as a new member of the Board. She lost her mother, Mary Swafford, to the disease. Mrs. Swafford taught 2nd grade at Hygiene Elementary outside of Longmont, CO.
There are two thoughts that resonate in my head when I am asked the question, “why are you involved with the HERA Foundation.” They are simple phrases and yet, the most difficult for me to say out loud without getting choked up. I miss my mom’s voice. I miss her laughter. Ovarian cancer took my mom’s life at the young age of 65. The ‘silent’ disease is how it is described . . . and it is silent, at first. Ironically, when my mom was diagnosed a mere three years prior to her passing and the ‘muted’ disease had already advanced to a stage 3C at the time of detection, I wanted to SCREAM at it. I wanted to SHAKE it. I wanted to bring it out of the darkness in which it existed and call it what it really was: the despicable ailment that would rob my child of his grandma, prevent the hundreds of 8 year olds that my mom taught from absorbing elements of her worldly knowledge, and take from me the best friend I have ever had. My three-plus year tantrum eventually subsided, but the grief over my mom’s death did not and I was determined to do something more about it than wallow in my own sorrow and self pity.
Once I experienced this awakening I wanted to figure out how I could help. There are several ovarian cancer non-profit organizations in existence. Based on my personal research, I found that the majority of these organizations center their mission on raising awareness about the disease. While I absolutely believe that ovarian cancer awareness is an important facet of understanding the disease, it is not – in my opinion – the key to preventing and curing it. The HERA Foundation is not only focused on awareness and empowerment of those affected by ovarian cancer, but is committed to raising funds that are awarded to the medical community for research as well. Every person that I have encountered that is affiliated with HERA is motivated by the desire to make a difference.
At the end of the day, I am still that little girl that wants to make my mom proud of me. She was my number one fan and always claimed that I was smarter, kinder and possessed more strength than she did. Boy, was she wrong. I think Mom is smiling down on me, wherever she may be, and approves of my journey with the HERA Foundation. If my participation in the organization can prevent one other person on the face of this earth from losing their best friend to ovarian cancer then I consider my efforts worthwhile.