Cassandra Erwin is the new executive director of the NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative, replacing the organization’s founder Jodie Kavensky in the role.
Ms. Erwin previously worked as a benefits fund manager for the Quad Cities Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Ms. Kavensky, founder and CEO of the 13-year-old organization, is stepping back from day-to-day responsibilities but will remain as the board’s president as well as a health educator and survivor liaison.
“I am deeply moved by the impact NormaLeah has with survivors through programs like sisterSTRONG,” Ms. Erwin said in a news release. “I am looking forward to participating in health fairs and educating others on ovarian cancer and its connection to other cancers.”
NormaLeah was founded by Jodie Shagrin Kavensky as a legacy to her mother, Norma Yecies Shagrin, and her aunt, Leah Yecies Hantman, whose lives were cut short by the deadly disease. “Sisters share a lot of things…breast and ovarian cancer should never be any of them,” Ms. Kavensky said.
In the Quad Cities, more than 2,500 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during their lifetime. All people born with ovaries are at risk for ovarian cancer. Many, such as breast cancer survivors (12% of women), may be at a higher risk but are unaware of their increased risk. Assessing personal risks and knowing the symptoms are crucial for earlier diagnoses and improved outcomes.
NormaLeah, headquartered in Rock Island, empowers all people born with ovaries (and those who love them) to know the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer has long been considered a “silent killer,” because the symptoms are subtle and advance slowly. It is hard to detect, difficult to treat, and there is no reliable screening test.
After launching in 2008, NormaLeah teamed up with KWQC’s Paula Sands to raise money for research. Since then, the organization has touched the lives of thousands of women and families impacted by ovarian cancer with education and supportive care resources.
The organization has raised more than $1 million to advance its mission through public outreach and medical collaboration programs.