Ovarian Cancer Walk Raises $250K for DCI Research

September 29, 2017
By: Julie Poucher Harbin, Writer, DCI

Gynecologic oncologist Andrew Berchuck, MD (center) receives a check, representing the proceeds of the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K run, from event organizer Melanie Bacheler (left), her husband Tim (right) and Bacheler's niece. The 15th annual Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K Run, held on Saturday, Sept. 16, in Raleigh, raised more than $250,000 this year for ovarian cancer research at Duke Cancer Institute.

Andrew Berchuck, MD, who directs the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and Duke Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Cancer Program, said that having funds available to start new ovarian cancer research projects “makes a big difference” and has helped expand the program. Berchuck’s been involved in the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K Run since it's inception. 

The annual event, which draws thousands, has increased in size year-on-year. Melanie Bacheler founded the walk in honor of her mother Gail Parkins, who lost a battle with ovarian cancer at the age of 56, just two years after being diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian epithelial cancer.

“I take inspiration from how dedicated they’ve been to the cause,” said Berchuck, thanking Bacheler and her family. “Oncologists have bad days too and just knowing all the effort that this team puts into this event and how much they give to support our research, clinical trials, and our learning about the causes of ovarian cancer so we can help to prevent it in the future, it’s just been incredible to have this support behind us for 15 years. We’re incredibly grateful.”

He also gave a shout out to survivors which he also called “inspirational.”

The Duke Ob/Gyn team laces up for the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K Run. “Seeing all of you out here just reminds me and my other partners and nurses how important what we do is, and I look forward to this event every year,” said Berchuck.

There are 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer a year in the U.S., Berchuck said, so it's not as common as breast, colon, lung, or prostate cancer, but it’s not rare by any means. It's been called the silent killer because it spreads fairly quietly, before causing painful symptoms. By the time many women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, its already advanced through the abdominal cavity. Overall survival is about 40 percent. 

It’s not too late to donate to DCI’s Ovarian Blossoms team, made up of faculty, staff, family and friends. For more information on the ovarian cancer walk/run, visit Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K Run and like the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K Run Facebook Page.

Circle photo (top):  (from left to right) Abigail Fulp Hardin (Ob/Gyn resident),Sarahn Wheeler (Ob/Gyn faculty), and Charlotte Gamble (Ob/Gyn resident) step out for the 15th Annual Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Walk and 5K Run.