The Johnson County Extension Homemakers (JCEH) hosted their annual Holiday Dinner and Auction on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the Extension Office in Paintsville. The event served as an opportunity to raise funds for UK Medical Center and the Markey Cancer Center’s Ovarian Cancer Screening Program.
During the event, Flat Gap Homemaker, Jennifer Goggans, a survivor of ovarian cancer, addressed the room.
A statement released by the JCEH explained what sparked the group’s commitment to this cause.
“In 1977, Extension Homemaker Virginia McCandless, a Barren County member who served as a state Health chair for Homemakers, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” the statement said. “She approached her oncologist, Dr. John Van Nagell with the UK Markey Cancer Center, about some ways to raise funds for UK’s research program to help fight this silent killer of women. The goal was to raise $1 from each KEHA (Kentucky Extension Homemakers Association) member, which then had 31,000 members.”
According to the statement, this gesture then became a tradition of KEHA members.
“In 2018-19 alone, Extension Homemakers across the state donated more than $46,000, making the total contribution since the inception of the program 42 years ago just under $1.5 million,” the statement said.
More than 46,000 women are currently in the screening program, coming from every county in Kentucky.
“The UK Markey Cancer Center has given well over 460,000 free screenings. They’ve done surgery on around 600 women and found malignancies in 150 women in Johnson County.”
According to the statement, Jennifer Goggans was one of the women in Johnson County diagnosed with cancer and addressed the Homemakers on Dec. 3 on the disease.
“I was very concerned about my health, especially since I am responsible for the care of my severely disabled daughter, whom I will take care of the rest of my life,” she said. “I didn’t think anything was wrong with my ovary, but took advantage of the free program to be sure. That program saved my life.
“In the early stages of ovarian cancer, you don’t have any symptoms,” she continued. “I felt completely healthy, but had a deadly cancer growing inside my ovary. If I hadn’t been screened, my cancer wouldn’t have been discovered until it had spread to other organs. It was the most aggressive grade of cancer and it would have taken my life if it hadn’t been caught so early.”
Goggans spoke of her experience battling the illness and how she overcame it in her address to the room.
“One thing you can do to help another cancer victim is to just be with them,” she said.
According to the statement, Goggans had friends and family members who messaged, emailed, sat with her during treatments, called, sent flowers, made soup, made hats and more.
“We had a ball, laughing and telling stories during my treatments. It made a difficult experience bearable and even pleasant,” she said.
Goggans went on to encourage members to be checked, particularly after reaching 50 years of age (or after 25 years of age should one have a family history of the illness).
According to the statement, “Johnson County Extension Homemakers have an average of 100 or more members each year. They consistently receive the state 100 percent award due to giving $1 of each of the dues towards ovarian cancer research. This year they will be sending the average of $100 with $337 extra as a result of the holiday auction. This $437 is a small token of the group’s appreciation of this outstanding program.”
The statement continued, “President Jean Wells stated that the program suffered funding cuts two years ago, which brought some changes to the program, and that state legislators in particular should be aware of its benefits to so many.
Agent Brenda Cockerham said that the ovarian research being done at UK was not only well known statewide, but nationally and internationally.
If you would like to participate in an ovarian cancer screening, call, 1-800-766-8279 (1-800-76OVARY), or, (85) 323-4687.
According to the statement, those interested in the screening should be prepared to provide their name, daytime phone number, address, preferred day and time to complete the screening and preferred screening location. Screenings are available in Lexington, Somerset, Elizabethtown, Prestonsburg, Maysville, Greenup and Paducah. The statement suggested that participants schedule appointments two months in advance and plan on continuing at the location of the initial screening.
For more information about this effort or other endeavors of the Johnson County Extension Homemakers, call, (606) 789-8108.