After continuing with the regular screenings and consulting with expert doctors in the field, it was suggested to me that I remove my ovaries once I was done having children. Now having three children ages 14, 12 and 10, I decided last August at 43 years old, to have my ovaries removed. I was not prepared for the side effects the loss of hormones would have on my body. But today, I, along with my doctors, am on my way to finding a treatment solution that works best for me.

Although it has been 12 years since my mom died, the disease continues to remain in my life. But, instead of it being my enemy, I have become its champion.

Mara_brother_motherAfter my mother’s death, I felt compelled to take action. I started to volunteer with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. I stuffed gift bags for their fundraising events, sold raffle tickets at Super Saturday and tried to fundraise. I started a jewelry business called Jewels for Janny where all the proceeds were donated to helping women suffering from the disease. Then in 2002, along with my fabulous and incredibly supportive husband and brother, we started a foundation in honor of my mom, the Janet Burros Memorial Foundation. Over the past 11 years we have raised more than $4.5 million dollars.

The Foundation supports research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Yale Cancer Center and the Basser Research Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine.

Today, I am incredibly honored to be a member of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation Board and sit as the Chair of organization’s Woman to Woman program. I also recently finished a two year term as the Co-President of the women’s division of Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Not having my mom around has been hard. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t want to pick up the phone and want to hear her voice or share some bit of news, but since I can’t, I have decided to take the lemons I was handed and turn them into lemonade.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death among women from gynecological cancers. It is estimated that ovarian cancer will strike more than 20,000 women this year… over half of them will not survive. Only twenty percent of all ovarian cancer cases are caught at an early stage. Most women are diagnosed at advanced stages, and fewer than 50 percent live longer than five years after diagnosis.

To find out more about ovarian cancer – signs & symptoms, risk factors, prevention – visit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Upcoming Free Event – Join Mara and the legendary Barbara Walters for a Breast and Ovarian Cancer Symposium, Monday, September 30th, 6pm-8pm, New York City. View the information here.

Mara_familyAbout Mara

Mara is an art consultant and the founder of MaP on Madison, a fashion consulting business in New York City. In addition to her position on the Board at the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, Mara also serves on the Board of Directors at the 92nd Street Y, Facing History and Ourselves, CASA Columbia, and WIZO.

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