In December of 1989, Gail Hayward was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. Although her physicians told her that the disease would most likely be fatal within two years, she survived 10 1/2 years. What she accomplished in the final 10 years of her life was build to what is now the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC).
Rather than focus on her own health issues, Hayward chose to turn her attention to other women. She was frustrated by the lack of information and public knowledge about ovarian cancer, so she started a network with other survivors and physicians in the United States. She rallied individuals one-by-one and shaped them into a coalition committed to saving women’s lives by working for better education on the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer. She built the movement at her kitchen table, from her hospital bed and hooked to IV’s in her home.
In 1995, Hayward was able to incorporate the NOCC as the country’s first comprehensive organization providing awareness and education about ovarian cancer. With the assistance of a prestigious national medical advisory board and board of directors from around the country, Hayward set out to develop an organization that would fuel the ovarian cancer awareness movement. She was able to initiate the nation September Ovarian Cancer Awareness public information campaign and create informational brochures and research literature. Within two years of its incorporation, NOCC was acknowledged as the leading educational and information organization on ovarian cancer in the nation.
NOCC remains Hayward’s legacy, keeping alive her spirit of outspoken advocacy, compassion for survivors and families and commitment to women’s health. NOCC initiated the first toll-free ovarian cancer information line and maintains the most comprehensive website for ovarian cancer support in the world. They have also built a network of may state divisions across the United State. Their Board is comprised of diverse professionals from around the country, and the Medical Advisory Board is made up of physicians and researchers active in the discovery of new treatments and early detection methods for ovarian cancer.
NOCC’s mission is to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and to promote education about this disease. By dispelling myths and misunderstandings, the coalition is committed to improve the overall survival rate and quality of life from ovarian cancer. Their goal is to provide the medical community and general population with a national resource focused solely on ovarian cancer; provide complete and accurate information regarding ovarian cancer; and obtain more funding for patient and public education, professional education, quality of life, survivorship in ovarian cancer and basic and clinical research.
NOCC has eight million consumer contacts annually, which includes the web site, telephone, newsletter, membership, community outreach, brochures and information packets. They also have in excess of 75,000 physician contacts each year that include conference outreach and symptom cards for physicians. NOCC now has 43 divisions in 28 states and will continue to work tirelessly for those living with ovarian cancer.