What Every Woman Should Know About Ovarian Cancer
Lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer:
1 in 75
Lifetime risk of dying from ovarian cancer:
1 in 100
Percentage of cases identified in the early stages:
Percentage of women whose recurrence will take place within just 3 years:
Percentage of patients who will experience a recurrence:
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are diffuse, and include:
- Swollen or bloated abdomen
- Persistent pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty eating, constantly feeling full
- Pain during intercourse
- Increased urination
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods
- Changes in one’s menstrual cycle
- Fatigue, back pain and unexplained exhaustion
What You Can Do
Take these three essential steps to protect your health first:
- See a dedicated OB/GYN at least once per year, every year.
- Track and discuss these symptoms with your doctor. Don’t dismiss them.
- If you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, seek care from a gynecological oncologist who is experienced in treating this disease.
The mission of the Cardinal Cancer Foundation is twofold. First, we want to empower women to protect their health first. And second, we want to support women facing the challenging journey of life with ovarian cancer.
We seek to achieve the following goals in our focus on empowering women:
- Advocacy and communication that encourages women to listen to their bodies with vigilance, and respond to changes proactively.
- Helping women understand the risk factors and signs or symptoms associated with ovarian cancer.
- Setting the expectation that when women bring diffuse symptoms to their healthcare providers, these symptoms will be taken seriously and not ignored or minimized.
- Encouraging women to seek out distinct, regular preventative treatment from a dedicated OB/GYN and not simply rely upon a family practitioner or internist for their gynecological evaluation and care.
- Educating women on the connection between undiagnosed and untreated gynecological conditions and future potential risks of developing gynecological cancers, with a focus on encouraging women to address gynecological health challenges proactively.
Supporting the Journey
We seek to achieve the following goals in our focus on supporting the journey:
- Supporting women on their overall journey with ovarian cancer, so that from initial diagnosis through their long-term experience, women and their loved ones know they are not alone on this path.
- Advocating for more sophisticated and research-based treatment options for women experiencing initial, persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer.
- Helping to spread awareness of molecular blueprints and tumor profiles as an emerging and essential option for women during recurrent treatment.
We know firsthand that one of the best things we can do for women is support solutions that already work but need to reach more women facing ovarian cancer. That’s why we’re committed to a long-term partnership with the Clearity Foundation.
Steps Through OC: Support for Life with Ovarian Cancer
Steps Through OC is a national program offering counseling, patient education, referrals and other resources for women facing ovarian cancer, their families and their caregivers. Each patient is matched with a professional ovarian cancer counselor. The program is entirely free to patients and is made possible thanks to a unique partnership between the Clearity Foundation and the Susan Poorman Blackie Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
Clearity Tumor Blueprints: Providing a Pathway for Responding to Recurrent Ovarian Cancer
Clearity Tumor Blueprints provide women with a comprehensive profile of the unique molecular characteristics of their specific disease. By measuring an evidence-based collection of biomarkers, this important diagnostic process tests for molecular changes in more than 300 genes and the levels of around 10 proteins. The Tumor Blueprint empowers women with information that can help guide them to their most optimal treatment options, including both standard-of-care and clinical trial pathways.
Alice Wendt was a vivacious, loving and dynamic woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 42, and lost her life to the disease just months shy of her 45th birthday. Alice was a wonderful and dedicated wife, mother and businessperson who co-founded Wendt Partners, a business consulting firm, with her husband Doug. Together, they built their business while simultaneously raising a family.
In 2016, Alice attended her first appointment with a dedicated OB/GYN in years, having previously limited her physicals and examinations to care under a family practitioner or internist (other than for pregnancy and childbirth). During this appointment, an ovarian mass was identified which was ultimately discovered to be cancerous during surgery. Thanks to the skill of her surgical team consisting of both a gynecological surgeon and a gynecological oncology specialist, she emerged from surgery with Stage 1C and strong chances of overcoming the disease.
Alice sailed through her initial treatment, working full-time through her chemotherapy program and staying focused on a positive outcome. After her first-round treatment she was declared NED (No Evidence of Disease), but unfortunately an unrelated CT scan a few months later indicated abnormally enlarged lymph nodes in her pelvis, and a biopsy confirmed that the cancer was again present and spreading.
Alice and her husband, Doug found the Clearity Foundation through an online search and completed the tumor profiling process.
They then worked closely with the Clearity scientific team to develop a strategic plan for each step in her recurrent care. Alice tolerated some of the most difficult medicines available in the medical arsenal, including Doxorubicin (nicknamed the ‘red devil’ because of its color and the excruciating pain many patients experience while on it). Even when Alice was on both medicine and radiation therapy together, she came to work every day, smiled at everyone and pushed forward with hope and a fierce will to live.
In the spring of 2018, her primary care doctor performed an assessment of her medication therapy focused on reducing side effects, during which a head CT scan was ordered ‘out of an abundance of caution’. Astoundingly, four tumors were identified in her brain, one causing massive displacement of her left frontal lobe. The discovery proved that Alice’s quiet heroism was extraordinary, for she had been working and functioning normally despite this unknown presence literally overtaking her brain.
Emergency surgery and post-surgical treatment was intended to slow the cancer’s spread in her brain, but the metastatic disease was unceasing and Alice lost her life to ovarian cancer just weeks after the cranial tumors had been discovered.
Alice possessed a truly fierce and unceasing will to live, and felt passionately that women need to protect their own health first. She recognized that, having been raised in a culture of religious beliefs and learned behaviors that ignored women’s health and sexuality in favor of matrimonial purity and a sacrificial commitment to motherhood, Alice had missed warning signs for years that could have made a difference in her quality of life, and potentially to her long-term health and ultimate prognosis.
As a result, she dedicated her two years of living with the disease passionately to encouraging the women around her to protect their health first, above all other beliefs, commitments and priorities.
The Cardinal is the symbol and namesake of our foundation. We chose the cardinal for
- The bright red color of the cardinal was one of Alice’s favorite colors. During her cancer treatment, Alice (a natural brunette) chose to wear a stunning blonde wig and often accompanied it with red blouses and dresses. This energy represented her commitment not just to survive, but to thrive and live life with passion and positivity. Her unceasing vivaciousness and infectious energy brought joy and love to those around her.
- The word “cardinal” has roots in Latin and refers to that which is first, fundamental or foremost.
The mission of the Cardinal Cancer Foundation is to help women overcome culture, learned behaviors and personal hesitations to truly protect their own health, first and foremost, at all times. We see this as the ‘cardinal rule’ of our mission.
- The cardinal is associated with the delivery of deeply significant messages in one’s life — messages that should not be ignored. Cardinals symbolize joy, hope, health, rejuvenation and celebration. These are all traits that represent Alice’s life and love deeply and passionately.
The A Team
Prior to the formation of the Cardinal Cancer Foundation, there was Alice’s A Team. The A Team began as a small group of people who knew Alice personally and who were deeply moved by her ovarian cancer journey. These individuals worked tirelessly to provide support to Alice, her husband and daughter. They ultimately formed the support network that made life during Alice’s cancer journey and life for her surviving spouse and daughter afterword bearable.
These individuals formed the backbone of our efforts to establish the Cardinal Cancer Foundation, many of them sporting awareness bracelets or donating in Alice’s name while spreading information and insights that can help women protect their health. You can join the A Team too, if Alice’s story moves you and you desire to join us on this journey.
To learn more about joining our efforts, fill out the form on our Contact Us page.
Information, data and statistics on this website are drawn from a wide variety of sources. If you are interested in learning more about ovarian cancer, please feel free to begin with these resources:
Would you like to be a part of our mission to empower women to put their health first? Are you ready to get involved in our efforts as a member of Alice’s A Team? One way you can contribute is by making a donation to the Cardinal Cancer Foundation. To do so, please use this donation form:
Note: The IRS has not yet issued a 501(c)3 designation to the Cardinal Cancer Foundation. Please note that donations may only be tax deductible in the future if and when such designation is confirmed.
Headquartered in New York, the Cardinal Cancer Foundation was established in 2019 as a living memorial to the amazing life and legacy of Alice Wendt, and to provide a platform to ensure that her message to women of protecting their health first is assured for future generations.
Board of Directors 2020-2021
- W. Douglas Wendt, Founder & Board Chair
- Christine Matson-Strack, Vice Chair & Treasurer
- Abigail T. Wendt, Secretary
- Jean Hudson Card, Board Member
- Pam Monahan, Board Member
- Kristin Nori, Board Member
- Alyson VanAlphen, Board Member
Our board of directors is committed to transparency and best practices in nonprofit strategy and operations. For more information on our governance, funding or other aspects of our nonprofit leadership, please contact us.