Heather Weeks, pictured at left in 2006, died in 2008 at the age of 24 of colon cancer. In her last months, she dedicated her life to raising awareness about ovarian cancer. She will be honored at this weekend’s Party for a Cure, which aims to raise awareness for ovarian cancer. All proceeds from the event benefit Hope for Heather, a nonprofit started by Weeks’ family to carry on her legacy.
Liverpool Heather Weeks loved a good party.
That’s why her mom, Frieda Weeks, thinks she would have appreciated Party for a Cure, the Jan. 29 fundraiser at Meghan MacMurphy’s designed to raise awareness for ovarian cancer.
“Heather loved music and dancing and a good party,” Frieda Weeks said. “I think she would love it. Heather’s mission in life was to tell women about ovarian cancer and the color teal, which is the awareness color for ovarian cancer. She would be 100 percent for any event that did that.”
On June 10, 2008, Heather was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer. Though she had surgery to remove a tumor on July 1, cancer cells had already spread to her liver and bone marrow. After extensive chemotherapy, Heather, a 2002 Liverpool High School graduate, passed away on Nov. 14, 2008.
In an effort to carry on her legacy, Heather’s family founded Hope for Heather in May of 2009. The foundation seeks to raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer, which Heather did in her final job as assistant to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund CEO Elizabeth Howard.
“She found a new passion and decided to change careers,” Frieda Weeks said. “She felt this was an area where she could make a difference. We felt that she would want us to carry on what she felt was important.”
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological cancers in the United States and the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women. Each year, approximately 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and about 15,000 women die of the disease. In 2008, it is estimated that 21,650 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 15,520 women will die from the disease.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are very vague, making it difficult to diagnose. Only 19 percent of ovarian cancers are caught before cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region. When it is detected and treated early, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92 percent.