WASHINGTON, Pa. (Sept. 28, 2011)—Haley Roberts -- student, ovarian cancer survivor and cross-country athlete -- is using her athletic ability to help raise awareness of ovarian cancers.
This Saturday, Oct. 1, hundreds of runners from the region’s college and university cross-country teams will don teal ribbons – the symbol of ovarian cancer awareness – as they race in the 9th Annual Bobcat Invitational at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds. Throughout the 6K (women) or 8K (men) course, nearly 400 runners will wear teal to draw attention to the importance of awareness and early detection.
Roberts, a sophomore at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) and member of the W&J cross-country team, was diagnosed with granulosa cell tumor (GCT), a rare form of ovarian cancer, as a junior in high school. She said the idea to combine an awareness event with the invitational came to her after she participated in an awareness walk but couldn’t find an associated race.
She thought it would be “awesome, easy, and highly effective” to organize her own event around a pre-existing cross-country race. So, Roberts approached University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Coach Joyce Brobeck, not knowing that Brobeck’s mother died of ovarian cancer. Brobeck took to the idea right away.
“The Bobcat Invitational always has been a signature event for Pitt-Greensburg,” said Brobeck. “This just elevates the meaning of the entire race.”
Added Roberts, “It’s a great opportunity to get this message in front of hundreds of people who will then carry it back to their campuses so we can reach even more people. We will reach thousands with just one event.”
Since being diagnosed almost three years ago, Roberts has worked hard to share what she knows about ovarian cancer and its symptoms and treatments. Roberts received W&J’s prestigious Magellan Project scholarship to travel to New Zealand where she studied with the world’s leading researchers of the very rare ovarian cancer she was diagnosed with at the University of Auckland and Granulosa Cell Tumour Research Foundation. Roberts then turned her research into a paper, “GCT for Dummies,” which has been downloaded from the Granulosa Cell Tumour Research Foundation website thousands of times by individuals in dozens of countries.
The 9th Annual Bobcat Invitational takes place this Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds. The women’s 6K begins at 10 a.m. and the men’s 8K begins at 11 a.m.