At the end of May in 2006, my grandmother became ill and could not shake it. She told me she felt like her stomach had been upset and she was feeling bloated. Within a few days she asked my mom to take her to the hospital. The doctors decided to admit her for more testing and scans. A few days went past and we received the worst news we could have imagined....cancer. It was not until we saw her a few days later that we were told it was ovarian cancer.
In the mean time, I had recently broken my ankle and required a cast. My orthopedic doctor was based at the same hospital she was being treated at. The day I got my cast on, I crutched my way over to her room to hang out and spend time with her. Growing up in a soccer family, every 4 years we were glued to the tv for the FIFA World Cup. Just so happened to be the summer of 2006 was the World Cup in Germany. We began to watch Columbia vs. Trinidad & Tobago. Despite being hooked to numerous monitors and tubes, she was involved in the game from the start. Yelling at 2 teams who barely speak English when they made a bad pass or took a bad shot. All I could do was laugh, she put aside her current situation and was so involved in the game she ignored the gloom of the situation to enjoy soccer.
She began to start making some small progress about a week after her surgery and the doctors moved her to a Manor Care facility to continue her recovery. The plan was for me to move into her home with her while she began treatment. That plan did not happen. She was in the Manor Care facility for less than 12 hrs before she was rushed back to the hospital. She continued to fight until the evening of June 26th, 2006. As she rested, her heart continued to beat at 47 beats per minute. She would not let go, she wanted to continue fighting. My mom and Uncle were in the room with her as she fought. They told her that everyone was ok and loved her very much. That same weekend it had been raining the whole time. 6:02pm on June 26th, 2006 the rain stopped, the sun came out and she passed on. Her battle with Ovarian Cancer lasted less than 1 month. She was 62 years old.
It was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. She was always there, always just a block away. Now she was gone.
Fast forward to September 2010. I wanted to do something to celebrate her memory. I wanted to do a car show. She had helped with a car show growing up for a family friend who's grandson had Muscular Dystrophy. Labor Day weekend every year they put on this show and she loved every bit of it. I thought she deserved one of her own. As I began to think about that, I wanted to also do a golf tournament. My wife said that I should start a foundation an I can plan both of those under one umbrella and raise awareness for ovarian cancer at each event. Thus, after some research, I founded the Sandy Eddinger Ovarian Cancer Foundation 6 years ago.
The last 6 years of this journey have been nothing short of amazing and difficult at the same time. I have loved every minute of it! I've become extremely passionate about the teal fight and teal has become my favorite color. We have also transitioned mission statements of that time as well. First we were going to raise money for research and since has transitioned to awareness focused events. Most of the events we have done have been with professional sports teams due to the large number of people who attend games, we can connect with as many of those as possible. The more who know the better and stronger the fight.
My foundation has been able to work with several organizations and teams; Williamsport Crosscutters (short season single-A minor league baseball team), Harrisburg Senators (Double-A minor league baseball team), Binghamton Senators (AHL hockey team), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL hockey team), Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Mystics (WNBA), Potomac Nationals (Single-A minor league baseball team). We have been on radio as well with a few of those teams. Along with that I have reached out to MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLS, NHL, and the NWSL about league wide initiatives. Have sent apparel and clothing designs to Under Armour and Nike to try and get some national awareness that everyone can purchase and wear.
Networking with the OCNA, NOCC, and OCRF along with various other OC organizations have helped me learn so much more about ovarian cancer and meet some amazing women as well. I now have become passionate about this fight that I want to go on speaking tours around the country raising awareness. Two of my biggest accomplishments are creating the #TEALstrong movement with a simple ribbon and bold lettering. That photo eclipsed 16k views and over 500 shares alone. Had a collage picture from last year as well of all the NASCAR drivers that participated in the teal gloves and steering wheel auction that went over 41k views. Then just this month made a flip card video about ovarian cancer awareness and stats that went over 23.5k views and shared over 700 times on Facebook.
That so far is my teal journey, the story is just beginning and the fight is far from over.