September was Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Varnell Elementary honored women fighting this disease by wearing teal on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Varnell first-grade teacher Nikki Barrett and music teacher Tricia Jennings know all too well the pain and heartache associated with this disease. "Unteal there’s a cure," here are their stories.

Nikki Barrett’s mom Donna Bandy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May 2016. Barrett writes: "We lost my mom in February 2019. She had strong faith in God and she handled every part of this horrible disease with strength and grace.

"The hardest thing that has been required of me was the day I had to let her go. At moments, it’s soul crushing, but then I am reminded of something my six-year-old said to me after her funeral. He said, 'It’s OK, Mama, Jesus made her better.'

"I have heard it said that we can either wear our hurt, or we can wear our hope. My family chooses to wear our hope. That is the best way we can honor my mom."

Tricia Jennings’ sister Susan Bagley was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August of 2007 at the age of 39. Jennings writes: "She immediately had major surgery to remove the cancer and began aggressive chemotherapy. After 18 months, she was given the ‘all clear’ so we were all very thankful! However, in a few short months the cancer returned. Since that time, the cancer has returned many times and she has endured 12 years of almost constant chemotherapy. Still today, she fights the hard fight daily!

"In the midst of my sister Susan fighting, my oldest sister Lisa Malcom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 49. Unfortunately, her battle had a much different story. Her diagnosis was in April of 2009, and it was not contained to just her ovaries. It was also in her liver. Her fight began with aggressive chemotherapy with major surgery to follow later. Although all the cancer was removed, it quickly recurred. My sister Lisa lost her battle to cancer on July 11, 2010.

"Throughout these years of dealing with cancer, my family has discovered we carry the genetic mutation known as BRCA1. This mutated gene causes a much higher rate of developing cancer, can cause cancer at a younger age, and it can be very aggressive.

"Every day I carry such pride in the fight my sisters have fought. It is only by the grace of God that my family has made it through each day. My sister Susan found a quote that sums up my family’s story: 'Sometimes life takes us places we never expected to go. And in those places, God writes a story we never thought would be ours' (Renee Swope)."

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