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Ovarian Cancer Alliance brings holiday awareness

Cancer float for awareness

The Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA) will highlight the symptoms of ovarian cancer in the Park Rapids area by featuring the MOCA float in Park Rapids' Fourth of July parade.

MOCA is a Minnesota-based non-profit dedicated to raising awareness, providing support for women and families and funding research needed to detect ovarian cancer early and treat it properly.

MOCA supporters will hand out symptom cards during the parade to highlight the signs of ovarian cancer, for which there is no test. MOCA volunteers hope their presence in the parade will inform people about ovarian cancer and show support for those impacted by the disease.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among women and is the deadliest gynecologic cancer. Nearly 400 women in Minnesota will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year.

Carol Luukkonen, an ovarian cancer survivor and the vice president of the MOCA Board of Directors, says she is always happy to see MOCA spread the word and get involved in community-based events around the state. Luukkonen lives in Eden Prairie but is connected to the Park Rapids community through her family cabin.

"I've received so much support and education from MOCA. I'm excited that the parade gives us an opportunity to reach out to women in the Park Rapids area to make sure they're aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer," Luukkonen said. "We want women and families in Park Rapids who are impacted by ovarian cancer to know that we're here for them."

The main symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

n Bloating

n Pelvic or abdominal pain

n Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

n Urinary symptoms, such as urgency or frequency.

If a woman experiences these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks, experts advise them to take action and visit their healthcare provider. If ovarian cancer is suspected, women are advised to consult a gynecologic oncologist.

MOCA is looking for volunteers who would like to walk in the parade to hand out candy and information about ovarian cancer to parade-goers. MOCA is also planning a "meet and greet" event for ovarian cancer survivors and caregivers later this summer in the Park Rapids area.

To get involved in the parade or express interest in the MOCA "meet and greet" event, contact MOCA Public Education and Communications Manager Becky Lechner at rlechner@mnovar or 612-822-0500.