story and photos by Jeremy Donnell, special to The City Wire
Welcome to Teal Night in Tahiti, where everyone has leis and flowered shirts and the survivors of ovarian cancer are celebrated. TEAL is the official color of ovarian cancer awareness as well as an acronym for Take Early Action and Live.
Teal Night in Tahiti was held Friday night (Aug. 17) at the Fort Smith Convention Center. Tickets were $35 each and the event was sold out at 500 seats. Guests could also buy raffle tickets for $10 each to have a chance at winning expensive jewelry.
Liz Martin, a volunteer with the Arkansas Ovarian Cancer Coalition (AROVCC) River Valley chapter, organized the event and said the prices for tickets and raffle were kept low “so normal everyday people can attend and win.” This helps to spread information to people who might not normally hear about it as well as encourage more people to attend.
The AROVCC River Valley chapter consists of 15 women, 7 of which are battling ovarian cancer. It includes western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. There are 23 survivors in the chapter.
On each table was a flyer with information on sponsors, supporters, schedule, and special thanks. With a $5,000 donation from Shamrock Liquor, $2,500 from Sparks and Mercy and many other smaller donations plus the 500 tickets at $35 each the event was more than paid for with money left over that would stay in this local chapter to help the community with ovarian cancer and awareness.
Blanche West, founder of the chapter, said in her speech thanking the guests: “If you bought a ticket, you helped out.”
There were also small cards that could go in a wallet with the signs/symptoms of ovarian cancer. The most common symptoms include: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often.) These are very common symptoms women experience often but should be cautious of, which is why AROVCC’s slogan is “Ovarian Cancer... It Whispers, So Listen.” If symptoms persist for more than two weeks, consult your physician.
The AROVCC urges women to undergo a regular rectal and vaginal pelvic examination. If ovarian cancer is caught within stages 1-2 there is a more than 90% survival rate. Majority of cases are not found unitl stage 4, where the 5-year survival rate is less than 15%. Ovarian cancer takes the lives of more than 140 women in Arkansas each year – 15,000 nationally.
To lighten the night, the local band Bajer played up-beat songs. Catering for the event was provided by 21 cafe. A photo booth from Arkansas’ Best Photo Booth was set up to give people free pictures.
Daren Bobb, event emcee, was on stage most of the night announcing what was happening and was presented a cake and present with his wife Christine by Martin for being there on their wedding anniversary.
All the survivors that attended the event took center stage after a presentation of our “Faces of Ovarian Cancer.” The video was created by Carter’s Audio and Video and included local victims, survivors, and doctors giving information on ovarian cancer and inspiration. Several survivors joined in a dance to celebrate with the dance floor filling up completely not long after.