Bucks County Herald

Doylestown boutique raises awareness for ovarian cancer

The “Faces of Our Fighters” exhibit includes 14-year-old ovarian cancer survivor Paige LaRosa.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and Estate Boutique owner Brittany McGinley is using her Doylestown shop as a vehicle to raise awareness about the silent killer that has personally touched her friends and family.

Ovarian cancer has affected two people very close to McGinley: her mother, Betsy Payn, and her best friend since the age of 3, Meredith Tarditi, who is now fighting the disease.

“I wanted to be able to do something for them,” McGinley explained. “This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart – my mom was one of the lucky ones who successfully fought and beat this disease in 2009.

Her journey made me all too aware that this ‘silent killer’ often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed.”

After the success of Estate’s "Faces of Warriors" breast cancer campaign last October, this year McGinley decided to channel that support, love and momentum to help raise awareness about ovarian cancer, which she said receives far less attention and funding.

This month, Estate is partnering with Turn the Towns Teal and organizer Joan Doyle to help put a face to the deadly disease, educate women on its symptoms, and generate awareness throughout Doylestown.

Instead of mannequins donning designer apparel in the large glass storefront, shoppers will see the portraits of Bucks County ovarian cancer survivors, which have been donated by award-winning photographer Lynda Berry.

“These women are extraordinary,” McGinley said. “They range in age from a 70-something grandmother, to a young mother of toddlers, to a teenager.”

In addition to the exhibit, McGinley will donate makeovers and 10 percent of September sales to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA), and also help to defray the ongoing medical cost of the youngest of the “fighters,” 14-year-old resident Paige LaRosa.

The Warrington resident was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 11 years old. What started out as abdominal pain turned into a shocking cancer diagnosis, rare for anyone under the age of 40.

The CDC reports that more than 90 percent of ovarian cancer patients are over 40 years of age. Fewer than 1 in 100,000 women under 20 are diagnosed each year. Paige’s parents say she has now been in remission for about two years and is active in sports and enjoys normal teen activities. However, due to Paige’s age at diagnosis, she will encounter additional medical needs in the future.

“She is super excited about being part of the exhibit,” said her mom. “Our hope is to spread the word about some of the signs of ovarian cancer – no matter your age – and hope that they’ll soon develop a screening tool to better detect this deadly killer.”

This year an estimated 22,440 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. More than 14,000 women will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.

McGinley said it was hard to hear the same story over and over again from each of these women about how long it took to get diagnosed and how they felt “alone” during the process.

“That's the hard part of this disease – they honestly all thought (along with many doctors) that it was GI-related or something else before finally being diagnosed. Because the disease masks as so many other things – bloating, constipation, back ache, fatigue – many women don't think to seek a diagnosis, as opposed to the urgency associated with finding a lump in their breast.”

“I’m incredibly honored that Brittany is doing this for other women,” said her mother Betsy Payn, a nurse who was 54 when she was diagnosed. She’s 62 now. “This disease just doesn’t get the same amount of attention that other cancers do. We have to listen to our gut instincts. When we know something is wrong, we have to seek answers. You’ve got to be your best advocate.”

Estate is at 53 W. State St. in Doylestown.

For information, visit estateboutique.com. For more on Turn the Towns Teal and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance visit turnthetownsteal.org and ocrfa.org.



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