Ovarian Cancer Walk & Run Goes Virtual (9/12 to 9/26)

Ovarian Cancer Walk 2019
Melanie Bacheler, founder of the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk & 5K Run presents a check to the director of Duke Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Cancer disease group Andrew Berchuck, MD (in red hat) and associate director of clinical research for that group Angeles Secord, MD (in the blue hat) at last year's event. Each year the money raised at the event, held in honor of Bacheler's mother, goes towards funding ground-breaking research at DCI. (photo by Jane Black)

For the health and safety of the ovarian cancer community, the 18th Annual Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk & 5K Run will take place as a virtual-only event this year, to be held from September 12 to 26, 2020.

Participants are encouraged to walk or run in their own neighborhoods or communities — wherever they are. They may register as individuals, lead or join teams. (For those who have already registered for either the walk or 5K, registration will be automatically converted to the virtual event.)

"Duke continues to fund ground-breaking ovarian cancer research, and we need to remain steadfast in raising community wide awareness and the much-needed funds to fight this deadly disease," said Melanie Parkins Bacheler, who founded the event in 2002 to memorialize her mother who at 56 succumbed to epithelial ovarian cancer. "Ovarian cancer doesn’t stop because of the coronavirus and neither will we."

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108.

The more than $4 million raised since the first Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk & 5K Run has helped fund several Duke studies — from the impact of ovarian cancer treatment on quality of life to investigations into the impact of genetic alterations on disease progression and implications for new therapies.

The popular educational forum, an event highlight each year, will be held on Sept. 26 at 9.30 a.m. via Facebook Live or Zoom (check back for information closer to the date). Director of Duke Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Cancer disease group Andrew Berchuck, MD, and other DCI gynecologic oncology faculty will speak on the latest developments in ovarian cancer research and treatments.

"Despite the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic, we never ever considered cancelling the event," said Berchuck, who's been involved in the event since day one. "It is one of our team's favorite days of the year where we share so much love and support with the ovarian cancer community. And there is still so much work to do in fighting ovarian cancer!"

Bacheler, also determined as ever in her commitment to the ovarian cancer cause, has found a silver lining in the switch from live to virtual this year.

"Going virtual means we can turn our community tradition into a national event for all," said Bacheler, urging event regulars and new participants to spread the word to family and friends far and wide. "We will walk or run together, even if apart."

Everyone who registers (walk and 5K) will receive a t-shirt, breakfast and lunch coupons. All registered participants in the 5K Run will be entered to win prizes from a random drawing. No age group or time-based awards will be given this year. Team captains will be contacted regarding a special challenge for additional prizes and survivors will be contacted about special events planned just for them.

Runners will log time and distance in the IYR App (Apple OS, Android OS), which will be shared with other event participants.

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