Loved ones raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer in memory of a Toledo woman

55-year-old Rhonda Couch died in 2020 and a walk this weekend in her memory will raise research money and awareness.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 7:56 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 12,000 women will die of Ovarian Cancer here in the United States this year alone.

A local woman who lost her sister to the disease is on the frontlines of the battle to help change those numbers.

“My sister was my built-in, life-long best friend,” Shelley Laurell said. She lost her sister in October 2020. “I don’t think that up until the time we lost my sister that we ever really processed just how sick she was. She was so busy just trying to survive each day.”

Rhonda Couch was 55 years old when she died of Mucinous Ovarian Cancer. It was only about a year between her diagnosis and her death.

“Some days are better than others. Lately, it’s been hard again because her birthday was last Saturday, and the anniversary of her death is coming up,” Laurell said.

Couch’s family and friends have turned their pain into purpose. A foundation was started in Rhonda’s memory called the Mucinous Ovarian Cancer Coalition. There’s a special event this Sunday at Whiteford StoneCo Community Park called “Walk 4 Hope” to raise money for it.

“Even though there is such a poor prognosis in many cases, there is no early detection,” Laurell said.

The goal is to help change that. There will be a trivia trail to raise awareness on the walk. “We’ll have signs along the trail with symptoms of the disease and myths about it. I hope people come away remembering one or two, and one of the most important is symptom awareness,” Laurell said.

In honor of Shelley’s dog, Daisy, who has been of comfort, the event is pet-friendly.

Daisy is Shelley’s dog. She also helped comfort Rhonda during some of her toughest treatments. So the walk for hope is pet-friendly. “After some of her most difficult treatments, Rhonda would have to be still with no stimulation. Daisy would put her head on her leg and stay there for hours. I would see Rhonda petting her, and I knew Daisy brought her comfort. That’s one reason we included dogs. They’re great little therapists for the people with cancer and us.”

Everyone walking will be a part of an effort to honor a life well-lived and to save more lives. “If we don’t find a cure in my lifetime, I hope we can find ways to treat it and detect it early because those are the two things that will increase people’s lives,” Laurell said.

The Walk 4 Hope is this Sunday at Whiteford StoneCo Park. That’s at the corner of sterns and Whiteford in Ottawa Lake. Check-in starts at 1. You can register online, click here to learn more.

If you can’t attend, but would still like to make a donation, you can text MOCC to 801801 and follow the prompts

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