September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and organizers of the campaign are hoping to see Teal ribbons and bows throughout downtown Basking Ridge as well as in neighborhoods adorning trees, mailboxes and lamp posts, etc.
These ribbons are the visual for the Turn The Towns Teal Campaign which was the inspiration of Chatham resident, the late Gail MacNeil.
“In addition to our ribbons, which are biodegradable and made in the USA, our volunteers distribute symptom cards to health clubs, YMCAs, libraries, beauty/nail salons, etc.”, said Jane MacNeil, President of the Turn The Towns Teal. "We also have lawn signs which basically explain the campaign, and we distribute posters to local businesses."
Basking Ridge resident creates giant 'Turning Teal' painting
Kristina Lloyd of Basking Ridge has created "Turning Teal," an acrylic painting of a 8 by 4-foot teal ribbon. She said the painting is now on display at the Steeplechase Cancer Center in Somerville's.
As an explanation for her painting, Lloyd said, "'Turn the Towns Teal' is a national campaign to promote awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms. My grade school friend's mother Gail MacNeil was one of the founders of this campaign. She was like a second mother to me growing up and is a true inspiration."
According to the Turn the Town Teal campaign, there is no early detection test and the symptoms are subtle and often misdiagnosed. That is why knowing the symptoms of ovarian cancer is so very, very critical, according to the campaign organizers.
Entering its seventh year, the national campaign has volunteers in 38 states and more than 325 towns across the United States.
Classic symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
· bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain/discomfort vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets,
· frequency and/or urgency of urination,
· unexplained changes in bowel habits,
· unexplained weight gain/loss,
· ongoing unusual fatigue,
· back pain
· menstrual changes
· pain during intimacy.
“The enthusiasm for this awareness campaign just continues to grow. Turn The Towns Teal is giving ovarian cancer survivors a voice that they’ve never had," MacNeil said.
Additionally, many of volunteers have lost a loved one to the disease, and with the campaign they now can do something proactive in memory of their loved one, she added.
"Throughout the year, we receive emails and calls from our volunteers with stories of women getting an early diagnosis because of reading the symptoms on the cards we hand out. Also, women have had an early diagnosis for other diseases as our symptom cards have made them more aware of changes in their bodies," according to MacNeil.
"All in all, this is proof positive that women’s lives ARE being saved through this campaign which is exactly what Gail wanted,” concluded MacNeil.
To learn more about Turn The Towns Teal®, or to volunteer and/or donate, go to the website www.turnthetownsteal.org.