In 2002, I read a Las Vegas Review-Journal article about Crispin Morrison, a local woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I reached out and asked if we could collaborate since I was planning the first HERA Climb for Life event in Las Vegas. Waiting in the parking lot of the climbing gym, she pulled up in a new convertible BMW, got out, and said, “It’s my cancer car. Like it?”
Crispin was young, barely 40, and had founded the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Nevada while dealing with her disease. It’s incredible what we can accomplish when we’re pressed for time.
After a climbing friend, Sean Patrick, was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, I offered to plan the climbing gym fundraiser for the newly formed HERA Ovarian Cancer Foundation. I had never even planned a dinner party. But it was unclear how much time Sean had left; it felt urgent to do something.
You see, I had learned that only 15% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed early stage when the five-year survival rate is 92%. Meaning, most women are like Crispin and Sean, diagnosed and handed a death sentence. And ovarian cancer symptoms are often dismissed. There was a myth that this was a disease of 70-year old white women. Yet here were two women diagnosed in their 30s and 40s.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Looking back at these photos, I’m reminded of the great work the HERA Foundation has done. I’m proud to have been a part of its founding, history, and collaborations with the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Nevada.
Until their last days, Crispin and Sean made a massive impact on their communities.
Crispin died in 2003 at the age of 41.
Sean died in 2009 at the age of 57.
Because of them, countless women are more educated about ovarian cancer, scientists doing innovative research have received seed grants, and women battling this disease have found support.
To honor their memory, know the symptoms of ovarian cancer, be empowered to take control of your health, and if a doctor is not taking you seriously, find one that does.
Visit HERAFoundation.org to learn more.