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An Ovarian Cancer Journey: Norma Geller

An Ovarian Cancer Journey: Norma Geller
Norma Geller appreciates life's unpredictable twists and turns and has always made the best of them.

When she and her husband Albert started a family they had a son, then a daughter. One more child would be nice, they thought - and, surprise, twin boys.

In another twist, Norma decided to pursue her dream of earning a college degree amidst the juggle of children, hospital volunteering, managing a household and working at the furniture store she and her husband owned. She transitioned from hospital volunteer to licensed social worker, where she would go on to work with cancer patients.

But, ovarian cancer would introduce another unpredictable turn. A few months before the couple was to embark on an African safari, Norma went for a routine test that raised a cancer flag.

"When I was diagnosed, what came to my mind and always stuck with me," says Norma, "was not a thought of 'Why me?' But 'Why not me?' Why shouldn't it happen to me? It could happen to me as much as anyone else."

Her ovarian cancer diagnosis came literally as the couple was packing their bags to leave for their safari. Norma's son, a liver surgeon who specializes in cancer, insisted they unpack their suitcases and stay for surgery. "I'm very fortunate," says Norma. "I didn't really have any symptoms, but, had I gone, I would have assumed it was something I picked up on the trip."

Following surgery, Norma completed 10 months of chemotherapy. At her six-month checkup, she was declared to be cancer free. "I feel very blessed," says Norma. "I don't dwell and don't think about it every single day, but it's always there. When I have my blood draws - you still get a little anxious until you get those results."

Although Norma has been cancer free for 22 years, she battles cancer in different ways today - as an advocate for research and for patients. She and her husband recently made a gift to support ovarian cancer initiatives at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center to help scientists find ways to prevent and treat the disease in other patients.

"Ovarian cancer sneaks up on you. Mine was at an advanced stage. I'm hoping and praying for research breakthroughs, and there have been in some of the cancers. My hope is that by supporting these research efforts, we can improve awareness and someday eradicate it."

Today, we can all share in a new hope. There is promising research underway at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center that could help countless families faced with cancer and the ever-present fear and anxiety it represents.

However, your support is essential to advance this high-impact research from the lab to human trials. For all those who will face a cancer diagnosis in the future, we simply must find a cure.

"I am lucky to be alive, not so many ovarian cancer patients are able to survive it," says Norma. "This is why I am a strong advocate for awareness and research."

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