Colleen’s Dream Foundation raises money and awareness for ovarian cancer

NV Philanthropy June July '16Colleen’s Dream Foundation 

Hard work, dedication, and determination bring four sisters together to raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer.

By Nadine Bubeck

Take a good look at this picture. It’s the last professional photo these beautiful girls had with their mom. Sure, they took plenty of pictures leading up to their mom’s fall to cancer, but ask any of them, and they’ll say they wish they would have taken more.

In the center––Colleen, mother of four girls: Nicole, Michelle, Danielle, and Billie.

Colleen isn’t here to meet all her grandchildren, stand proud at her daughter’s wedding, or host holiday dinners. Instead, Colleen is looking down upon her legacy; a beautiful legacy full of hard work, dedication, and determination to keep her dream alive.

Colleen’s Dream Foundation started in 2012 and funds ovarian cancer research with the primary goal of developing an accurate and accessible early detection test. That’s because there is no legitimate way to detect ovarian cancer.

In 2007, the wife, mom, and friend was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, immediately entering a world full of invasive surgery, harsh chemotherapy, and lots of uncertainty. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as “the silent killer” because many women do not discover their disease until it’s in the late stages, which leads to them succumbing to the disease within a short period of time.

Colleen’s symptoms were classic. She had become increasingly bloated and had severe abdominal discomfort. Her appetite was all but gone; she experienced a frequent need to urinate; and was regularly fatigued. However, she did not recognize the symptoms as possible signs of ovarian cancer; worse yet, her doctors were just as clueless.

For several weeks, diverticulitis was the probable diagnosis, even though intuition feared worse. Never before did ovarian cancer cross their minds, as Colleen had a partial hysterectomy years earlier. Little did they know, her decision to have her uterus removed but keep her ovaries would ultimately cost her her life.

Finally, a friend, who so happened to be an ER doctor, issued Colleen a CT scan. The finding: a football-sized mass attached to her ovaries.

“We did not know her opponent was as insidious, tenacious, persistent, and vile as it was. We decided stage three cancer was certainly better than stage four, and regardless of what kind of cancer it was, our mom could beat it. Anyone who knew her believed she had the clear upper-hand in that fight,” says Michelle Batschelet, Colleen’s Dream co-founder and Colleen’s daughter.

Throughout Colleen’s journey with ovarian cancer, she often provoked conversation with her daughters wrapped around finding a life purpose and fulfilling it. As a result, Colleen’s Dream Foundation was born, and the sisters have since raised immense funds and awareness for ovarian cancer.

The Arizona-based foundation has drawn national and celebrity attention. A number of NFL players are huge supporters, including board member Billy Cundiff, the former Buffalo Bills kicker.

“We are excited and humbled by the support we have received from the NFL community. What’s even better is that these guys travel to attend our fundraisers and have a great time. We love that they are a part of our Colleen’s Dream family,” says Cundiff.

The foundation spearheads annual fundraising events. In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, they hold the Golf & Gala every February. The most recent Golf & Gala raised over $200,000 towards ovarian cancer research.

So where does the money go?

Colleen’s Dream Foundation feels it’s important to raise money for research that will lead to reliable early detection testing and improved treatment for ovarian cancer. Because so little is known about ovarian cancer in proportion to other women’s health issues, there’s an incredible opportunity for research and education.

The foundation works with some of the top research hospitals and universities around the country, offering seed funding to young investigators. Your kindness and donation goes towards cutting-edge research by some of the brightest, young minds in the world.

“The mortality rate for ovarian cancer is inexcusable. The goal is that our funding eventually results in the ‘holy grail,’ which would be an early detection screening tool,” says Nicole Cundiff, Colleen’s Dream co-founder and Colleen’s daughter.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among women in the United States. When detected early, it has a 92 percent five-year survival rate. But ovarian cancer’s vague symptoms often go undetected until later stages, like in Colleen’s case.

Colleen passed away in February of 2013. She loved to exercise, travel, cook, and spend time with friends and family. She was an avid reader. She also gave the best hugs––just ask her grandkids.

Her story really is a sweet sorrow. Each of her daughters is beautiful and hard working. They’re all so close––with a sisterly closeness any mother would want for her children. And they’re fulfilling a life purpose: keeping their mother’s dream alive.

To learn more and to support Colleen’s Dream, visit colleensdream.org.

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