Numerous events set to bring awarness to ovarian cancer research

Thursday night, landmarks such as U.S. Bank Stadium, Target Field, the 35W Bridge and parts of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester will light up in teal to raise awareness about ovarian cancer.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS talked to one woman about her journey with the disease and why awareness and research are so critical.

Ginger Wilhelmi was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer but survived.

"So there is a lot of hope, it just sort of changes your trajectory on what you think your life journey is going to be," Wilhelmi said.

Now she’s sharing her story to help others.

Wilhemi is a 17-year ovarian cancer survivor, but it’s come back amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I spend a lot more time alone," she said. "It’s a little trickier to manage any kind of side effects or issues that you may have."

It all began as a surprise.

"I just went in for my annual exam and I tell everyone I know just don’t skip those annual exams because you need to be checked up," Wilhelmi explained.

She didn’t have any symptoms. It’s why she now encourages women to go to their doctor each year.

Kathleen Gavin, executive director of Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, said, "Sometimes it is a sister or a friend who notices these symptoms, and they can really creep up on women, and they’re very common, very vague."

Gavin said symptoms are bloating, stomach pain, frequent need to urinate or getting full very quickly after eating.

Gavin said each year 22,000 women in the U.S. are affected by the disease, taking 14,000 women’s lives. With no early detection, Gavin said research is critical.

"We are super interested in finding an early detection test because that will be a real game-changer for future generations," Gavin said.

MOCA has had to pivot with its biggest fundraiser of the year because of COVID-19. So instead, the organization is holding a teal car drive-thru at the State Fair this Saturday. They’re hoping big donations come in. They are one of the biggest fundraisers of ovarian cancer research in the country, already donating $9 million dollars to the cause here in Minnesota.

Shine Teal for MOCA virtual event and online auction is also coming up Friday. It’s free to sign up, allowing anyone to watch the program and learn more about MOCA.