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2021 Courageous Caregivers
Nominated by Debbie Norris
Monty and I were married less than a year when I was diagnosed. From day of my diagnosis through now he has been there for me. He gave me my blood thinner shots every day for 29 days after surgery. Was at every appointment and chemo, along with working full time. He made sure we had our “chemo picnics” every treatment. He made sure I had taken my medication on time and ate every two hours so I didn’t get nauseous. He made sure we had fun, laughs and plenty of great memories. We celebrated our first anniversary at chemo - dinner was pizzas and slushees from Speedway. He surprised me during treatment on my birthday with my best friends arriving from MN and my parents showing up with homemade chocolate eclairs the day after treatment because I was upset I had chemo on my birthday weekend. He continues to keep my health a priority as I struggle through the issues that have come after treatment. I couldn’t do this life without him.
In 2015, after the WOCA walk, he saw the need for male caregivers to be included. That was the day he started his FB support group TealMen of OC, it now has over 120+ men from all over the world. He attended the 2016 OCRA conference by himself and helped start the “men’s only” caregiver session at conference. He puts himself out there with advocacy, education and awareness efforts. He stands in front of audiences with me as we share our journey. He has shared his tips and knowledge as a caregiver with journalists, other caregivers and several ovarian cancer organizations. He has become more than just my caregiver, he has become a caregiver to the caregivers.
Nominated by Denise Harris
Maddie, my daughter, was only 16 years old when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After my surgery, she became my caregiver along side her dad. My incision site had to be wet dry packed twice a day for almost two months. My oncologist showed her how to do it, and without hesitation my brave, loving girl took charge. Before school every morning she packed the site and every night before bed. She willingly and without complaint did my bathroom cares because I couldn’t twist or bend.
She was the one who shaved my head when my hair started to fall out and comforted me after as I cried. She held my hand during those difficult days after each chemo and would drive me to my treatments and appointments.
When I developed a lymphatic cyst from the removal of several lymph nodes resulting in my ureter being blocked backing up my kidney, I had to have nephrostomy tubes and urine bags. Again she jumped in to flush my tubes one a day and drain the bags as needed.
I’m not sure how many young girls her age would have so willingly taken care of their mommas like my baby, but I am truly blessed to have her in my life.
Given her young age and her ability to be so compassionate, I believe that makes her an extraordinary caregiver.
Nominated by Brooke Monyelle & Karen Caple
Cody is my young husband and has been since day 1 to provide me care, compassion, and love my caregiver and husband since I because sick, which started technically in August of 2018. As of November/December of 2018 I was given the diagnosis of small cell ovarian cancer. He was my right hand person, made sure we would be going to the right doctors, even though I'm the long run it would get us into medical debt. He did whatever he could to keep my safe, health, alive, and most importantly loved. I could see the sadness when I didn't have the energy to even sit and talk with him but he would keep supporting me the best he could. He tried to make me feel as normal as I can and would gently push me to keep my body strong.
One time after one of my surgeries, he had a hard time with the outcome-me being sedated for a few days. That was really hard on him. He actually broke down and cried and our oncologist supported him. I think it was then Cody didn't realize how scary the situation was, but we got through it!
Cody is my dear son-in-law, who has taken exceptional care of my daughter Brooke these past 3 + years. Cody and Brooke were just newlyweds and in their early 30's, when Brooke was diagnosed with Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary. They had to travel back and forth from Beloit to Cincinnati for chemo treatments, tests, surgery and stem cell replacement. He has been alongside Brooke this entire journey. We were just told today that Brooke is now cancer free for her 2 year anniversary.
Cody has worked full time during his wife's treatments and recovery, using up all his vacation time++. He often worked as her advisory for medical questions and care. He never complains and shows empathy for others. Cody has always seemed so calm through the worst of Brooke's healthcare storm. His compassion is never ending towards Brooke, family and friends.
Cody helped man the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic at our city's hospital. We've been told by some of his past patients, that he is an excellent nurse. We love him and are very proud of him.
Katy Vander Molen
Nominated by Julie Jagemann
Katy is a retired nurse and was Stephanie’s primary caregiver during her cancer journey, providing physical and emotional support. She accompanied Stephanie to many of her medical appointments to provide “another set of ears” and to help interpret medical information.
In spring of 2020 Stephanie developed AML and her physicians recommended she have daytime “sitters” so that she was safe at home. Katy organized a group of “Fried Eggs” to cover the daytime hours so that Stephanie’s husband could continue to work and be reassured that his wife was cared for. Those were very special times for all of us who cared for Stephanie - we enjoyed her light, her wisdom and her humor. Katy also made food for Stephanie and Jim and for any visitors who stopped by.
As Stephanie’s health worsened, Katy spent even more time with her and gave a great deal of support to Jim and to Stephanie’s dear friend Kelli. Katy was the go-to person when we wanted to know how to help and she also gave support to the rest of the “Eggs”. She and Stephanie created a peaceful and loving environment in Stephanie’s home - it was just the way Stephanie wanted it to be.
I find myself struggling for words to really describe Katy’s selfless acts of giving to her dear friend and to the rest of us. She had the personal loss of her father and a major surgery during this time but it barely slowed her down and the rest of the Eggs knew what to do because we modeled her behavior.
It’s likely that Katy feels Stephanie’s loss more than many of us, because of their closeness, but the “Eggs” will continue to support Katy and each other.