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ODA Raises Awareness During National Ovarian Cancer Month

Guest speakers Zi Burns ’22 and Mrs. Vicki Druehl shared their personal experiences with ovarian cancer at a special assembly for Upper School students, faculty, and staff.
As students entered Petrik Thunderdome for Upper School’s assembly, members of the cheer team handed out small packets containing a pair of teal shoelaces imprinted with “Fight Like Britt,” and an informational card containing signs, symptoms, and important facts about ovarian cancer.

Students sat in respectful silence as senior Zi Burns spoke about her late sister Brittany “Britt” Burns from the podium. Zi described her sister as an outgoing and friendly person who loved sports and competition. She was an All-American high school swimmer who was recruited to row for Clemson University and helped her team win an ACC championship during her four years on the varsity team. 

Following graduation, Brittany and her fiancé Tony Steward moved to Buffalo in 2015, where Steward was drafted to play for the Buffalo Bills. In December after months of tests, Britt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She fought hard, undergoing chemotherapy, working with top doctors and specialists, and trying multiple medical treatments, but three months after her diagnosis she lost her battle at the age of 26. Her family has since committed to sharing Britt’s story and raising awareness by speaking at college campuses across the country.

Siesta Key’s receptionist, Mrs. Vicki Druehl, then shared about her own ongoing battle with ovarian cancer. Originally viewed as a prophylactic course of treatment due to family history with the BRCA1 gene, following surgery to remove her ovaries, Mrs. Druehl learned that she did in fact have cancer and would need to undergo chemotherapy. She spoke about the emotional impact of the diagnosis in addition to its physical impact, and shared the need for increased education to help women understand the disease and seek treatment as early as possible for the best prognosis. 

Ovarian cancer is often hard to detect and often goes untreated until the disease has reached an advanced stage. Because of this, there is only a 49 percent 5-year survival rate. Since September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, the Burns and Druehl families’ goal is to educate and raise awareness in young people so they become familiar with the risks and early warning signs. To support this effort to raise awareness, Upper School faculty, staff, and students were encouraged to wear their teal “Fight Like Britt” shoelaces or teal clothing during a dress-down day on the Uihlein Campus in a show of solidarity.

For more information about ovarian cancer, please visit these resources:

The Out-of-Door Academy

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