Here is another blog post that was lost when I transitioned to a new website host last year. I originally posted it in July of 2013. Caroline is still going strong and continuing her fight against ovarian cancer.
The first thing I noticed when I met Caroline Mancini is that almost everything she wore was teal.
Teal blouse. Teal earrings. Teal watch. Teal wristband. Even her blue eyes almost looked teal.
Although teal is one of her favorite colors, Caroline is not trying to make a fashion statement by enveloping herself in it.
In fact, she probably wishes teal wasn’t such a big part of her everyday life because teal is the color used to promote ovarian cancer awareness. Women who wear it are battling ovarian cancer or showing support for women fighting the disease.
WA Ranks 2nd in US for Ovarian Cancer Deaths
Caroline was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 3 years ago. Here are some facts about this insidious disease:
• It ranks as the 5th leading cause of cancer deaths even though it comprises only 3% of all women’s cancers
• Washington ranks 2nd in the country for ovarian cancer deaths
• More than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013
• The long term survival rate for women who get treatment for ovarian cancer in its earliest stages is more than 90%
• The long term survival rate for women who don’t get treatment for ovarian cancer until its later stages is only about 10%
Unfortunately, Caroline didn’t catch her ovarian cancer in its early stages because she, like many women, assumed its symptoms – bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, upset stomach, back pain – were caused by some other ailment and thought they would go away on their own.
Caroline’s Dogs are Captains of her “Army of Supporters”
Caroline has what she calls her “Army of Supporters” comprised of friends and family who have steadily supported her during her 3 year fight against ovarian cancer.
But every army must have leaders, and Caroline says her dogs Skye and Kubby are the Captains of her Army of Supporters.
A British Dog Lover Moves to the US
Caroline moved to Redmond from England 8 years ago with her husband Daren, two children Joe and Bella, and her dog Flash after Daren accepted a job with Microsoft.
Flash had a group of dogs he played with regularly in England, but that changed when the family moved to a rural area of King County.
Because houses there are spread out, Caroline had trouble meeting new people with dogs, so for the first time in his life, Flash didn’t have any playmates.
Like most dog lovers, she came up with the perfect solution to the problem. She got another dog.
Skye is a terrier mix that Caroline adopted from a rescue group in Snoqualmie. She immediately knew Skye was destined to be her dog because she was “the female version of Flash.”
Her judgement proved to be true – Skye and Flash got along famously. Sadly, they weren’t together long because Flash died from cancer a few months after Skye joined the family.
Skye became extremely depressed after Flash died, so you can probably guess what Caroline did to help her. She got another dog.
Kubby came from a local Seattle dog rescue group. He’s an original mix of corgi, English sheepdog, and poodle.
made a seamless transition into the family, and soon he and Skye became fast friends.
Cancer Makes Its Appearance
Caroline has always liked long walks, and one of her favorite things to do with her dogs is walk them about 5 miles a day in and around the woods near her house.
It was on one of those walks that she first realized something was terribly wrong with her health.
While walking with a friend to train for her third Susan G. Koman 3-day Walk to raise money for breast cancer research, Caroline lost her breath trying to climb a hill she had walked up numerous times with no problem.
In the months leading up to this incident she began to experience indigestion, bloating and backaches, but she didn’t know these were common signs of ovarian cancer, and, true to her English roots, she accepted these health problems without complaint and figured they would soon resolve themselves.
But her inability to climb the hill, combined with her other symptoms, made her realize she needed to see a doctor.
Within a day she found out she had ovarian cancer.
When she heard the news that permanently changed her life, she sought solace with her dogs by taking them for a 2 hour walk at Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park.
Dog Walks Provided Energy, Motivation to Fight Cancer
People often suffer severe depression when they first hear they have cancer, and Caroline was no exception. But fortunately, she had Skye and Kubby to help her confront it.
Of course, her family’s support has been critical to her fight against cancer, but during the day when her husband was at work and her kids were at school, the 2 daily walks with her dogs were the only activities that could pull her out of her doldrums and get her out of the house.
Caroline now believes that before her diagnosis, she took her daily walks with her dogs for granted. She said those walks stopped her “mental and physical nosedive” and helped get her out of the “dark cell” that imprisoned her when she was told she had cancer. Getting outside with the dogs also gave her strength to fight her disease.
Her dogs, she said, became her “lifeline.” But getting her out of the house for daily walks isn’t all they did for her.
Dogs Provided Emotional Support
Just before her diagnosis she began training Skye to be a therapy dog so she could take him to hospitals and hospices comfort adults and children.
After her diagnosis, Skye become HER therapy dog, and her calming presence helped Caroline navigate the ups and downs battling cancer.
And true to their roles of Captains of her army of supporters, Skye and Kubby are the first to recognize when she’s having a particularly bad day, so they are usually the first to provide the love, strength, and energy she needs to get through her rough patches and take on her fight against cancer with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.
Raising Money for Cancer Research
This Sunday, Sky and Kubby will join Caroline at the Swedish Medical Center Foundation’s SummeRun & Walk for Ovarian Cancer, which is the annual fundraiser for the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research.
Caroline, her dogs, her family, and several other members of her “army” will participate in the 5K walk around Capitol Hill as Teal Team. There will also be a 5K run.
Even though the event is Sunday you still have time to walk with Teal Team. Just show up at the corner of Marion Ave. and Minor St. on Capitol Hill at 6:30 AM to register. You can pay the $35 registration fee with a check, cash, or credit card.
You can also make a donation to Teal Team by going to their web page and clicking on the Donate to Support Us link.
Although Caroline’s cancer has been in remission twice, it recurred last November. She’s currently participating in a trial for an experimental drug, and she’s optimistic that she will ultimately beat the demon that invaded her life 3 years ago.
She is also passionate about educating women to be vigilant about recognizing for the symptoms of ovarian cancer
since early detection significantly increases the chance of surviving it.
I plan to write more about Caroline and her dogs before a fundraising event this September her daughter Bella is organizing.
I hope that you will either walk with or make a contribution to Teal Team.
Don’t worry about finding them after you register – just look for a determined woman with a British accent dressed in teal from head to toe.