15 Sep BODY OF WORK
WORDS & PICTURES
Beth Payne & Erik Reader
Jodie Kavensky was inspired to create public awareness, promote early detection, and support research for ovarian cancer after losing her mother, Norma and her Aunt Leah to ovarian cancer. “I couldn’t save their lives, but maybe I can save someone else’s,” Jodie says.
With a background in marketing, Jodie set out to save women from this disease. Since its establishment in 2008 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, NormaLeah proudly calls downtown Rock Island home and reaches people all across the nation.
The mission of the organization is to enrich lives through early detection education, patient support services, and research funding for ovarian cancer. Using early detection informational cards, festivals like “girlpARTS” and the Bodice Project, Bling 4 Cancer jewelry, and educational tools, Kavensky has helped change the future for women.
All women are at risk for ovarian cancer and 1 in 79 American women will be diagnosed with it. Sisterly Advice to BEAT ovarian cancer helps inform, engage, and empower women to be vigilant self-advocates for their ovarian and gynecologic health. As there is no screening or widely-used early detection tests for this disease, Jodie also shares her experience as a caregiver, high-risk individual, and advocate. She mentions that, “Arming people with accurate information and becoming their ally is the most important thing we can do.”
One of the most successful initiatives to date is BEAT the BIG O. BEAT is an acronym that stands for Bloating that is persistent, Eating less, feeling fuller, Abdominal and/or back pain, Trouble with your bladder and bowels. NormaLeah has distributed nearly 500,000 free BEAT symptom cards to women worldwide.
Another important NormaLeah program which was first presented in 2016 is RULE OUT! Ovarian Cancer for Early Detection and Risk Reduction. This program provides front-line medical professionals with important information to help them diagnose the disease in its early stages. It aims to reduce both the incidence and mortality rates of ovarian cancer by sharing the latest advancements in diagnostic and risk reduction techniques.
Personally, Jodie enjoys traveling and golf, but memories of her mother and aunt are never far away. “I think they would be really touched, amazed, and honored that someone is doing something to save lives from the disease that took theirs,” Kavensky says.
Learn more about the Founder and CEO Jodie Kavensky and the NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative online at normaleahfoundation.org. Stop by the office located in downtown Rock Island at 1612 2nd Avenue or contact a staff person by phone at (309) 794-0009.