Making a statement

Published 9:45 am Monday, May 24, 2010

Garb worn for triathlons isn’t typically worn to attract attention. Some wear the names of sponsors on their tank tops, but generally they serve more of a practical purpose than any kind of fashion statement.

Ross Williams and several others used Sunday’s sixth annual Land Between the Lakes Triathlon in Albert Lea as an opportunity to make a statement and help raise awareness of ovarian cancer by wearing tank tops in support of the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

For Williams, wearing the tank top served as a way to lend support to MOCA, an organization that provides a resource for women who dealing with ovarian cancer.

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“It’s my hope that at some of the races I’m at that if people have a question about it that I can put them to MOCA and provide a resource just as my mom has been to other women,” Williams said.

Williams’ mother, Carmen, is a two-time ovarian cancer survivor and through his numerous races through the summer he hopes to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, which he said is a silent killer because the symptoms are difficult to diagnose.

“Whenever you’re dealing with something difficult it’s always nice to know people have been there before,” Williams said. “It’s been really meaningful for her to be a resource to people that maybe she didn’t have when she first started.”

According to the MOCA website each year 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 15,000 die from the disease. Ovarian cancer is treatable and when diagnosed early the survival rate increases, however, only about 19 percent of ovarian cancer cases are detected in the early stages.

“A lot of the symptoms women experience with ovarian cancer, they don’t think anything is wrong,” Williams said. “They think it’s some bloating that’s going on or they have some stomach indigestion or what not. But it’s all kind of hidden before it’s too late and really blows up.”

David and Suzie Olsen, Lynn Scheevel, Jennifer Chalmers and Aaron Phillips also wore the tank tops during the triathlon, which featured 178 registered participants.

David Olsen has had several family members affected by ovarian cancer. Four women in his family had ovarian cancer and when Williams told him of the tank tops, he thought it was a great idea.

Williams finished 14th overall, David Olsen took ninth, his wife, Suzie, took second in the female division, Chalmers took fourth in the female division, and Scheevel took 10th in the female division.

Matthew Payne, of Columbia Heights, won the triathlon for the second consecutive year after he finished in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 52 seconds.

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