This cross-country runner transformed a cancer diagnosis into a
crusade for awareness.
A Washington & Jefferson College honors student, Magellan scholar, athlete—and cancer survivor—sophomore Haley Roberts is on a mission to raise awareness of ovarian cancers and help others fight the same disease she overcame.
At 16 years old, Roberts was diagnosed with granulosa cell tumor (GCT), a rare form of ovarian cancer. Two years later, with the support of the Magellan Project, the biology major was afforded the opportunity to travel to New Zealand, where she studied with the world’s leading researchers of the disease at the Granulosa Cell Tumour Research Foundation and University of Auckland.
Inspired by the popular “For Dummies” reference books, Roberts turned her research into a paper titled, “The Genetics of GCT: An Unofficial Guide for the Scientifically Illiterate.” Since being posted online, the paper has been downloaded thousands of times by individuals in dozens of countries. “This information may help others make decisions on treatments and better conceptualize how and why their cancer is different from other ovarian cancers,” said Roberts, who also has met with survivors to talk with them about their experiences.
When Roberts returned to campus, the student-athlete continued her awareness crusade by combining efforts with the organizers of a regional cross-country invitational. As a result, 400 runners representing Pittsburgh-area colleges and universities sported teal ribbons to draw attention to the importance of awareness and early detection. “We were able to reach thousands with just one event,” said Roberts, who also is speaking at a GCT survivors’ conference this spring.
“There is a reason this happened to me,” she concluded. “I am young and enthusiastic to find out more.”