‘Unleash the SHE’ in support of ovarian cancer

(ABC 6 News) – Saturday morning, ovarian cancer survivors families and friends gathered to run in support and honor of lost loved ones and those still battling the disease at the ‘Unleash the SHE’ 5K/10K race and co-ed walk/run.

The event was located at Mayo High School in Rochester. It consisted of a 5K and a 10K as well as a program to educate participants on the disease.

The event raised money for ovarian cancer research through Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA), a statewide non-profit. To date, the organization has raised $10 million in funding research.

Hundreds of people were in attendance and for many, it was more than just a race.

“There is nothing like talking to another woman who says ‘I’m an ovarian cancer survivor as well. I understand’,” said Kristine Greer, who participated in the event. “As a 21-year survivor, I want to offer hope to those, especially newly diagnosed, and say there is always hope.”

Ovarian cancer affects thousands of women every year. About 1 in 78 women are diagnosed with the disease, according to MOCA.

Unlike other cancers, there are no screening tests for ovarian cancer. Therefore, knowing the symptoms is critical in early detection.

“Although they’re vague, bloating, bladder changes, bowel habit changes, and feeling full fast with a meal,” explained Dr. Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, a gynecologic oncologist at Mayo Clinic. “If those persist for a couple weeks, go and see your medical provider for an evaluation.”

Samantha Kolbriger was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. After a year-long battle, she passed away, leaving behind family, friends and her husband, Jay.

Now, they are Sammy’s Soldiers, and 23 people drove to the race today, some even from out of state, to honor her memory.

“How do I explain Sammy. Just a very passionate, powerful woman and dearly missed,” said Jay Kolbriger. “That’s why we’re here.”

For people like Jay, who have lost loved ones to the disease, the support means everything.

“It’s necessary. I don’t know that I would be able to do it without it,” Kolbriger said. “It’s just really difficult and having their support and help just really does lift me up and actually support. I don’t, I shouldn’t even say I don’t, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

The race is a wake up call to women, to know the signs, and live life to the fullest.

“Those memories are all you have and so just cherish every moment. Cause you don’t know when those are gonna be gone,” Kolbriger added.

For more information or how to donate, click here.