BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Teal ribbons once again graced various trees, parks, schools and the municipal building in Bridgewater throughout September to commemorate ovarian cancer awareness in the township.
Bridgewater has been hosting the event for five years now.
Late Bridgewater resident Renee Edwards, who bravely battled ovarian cancer before losing that battle in 2016, made it her life’s mission to raise awareness about ovarian cancer so she could help as many other women as possible with the disease. She brought the “Together Teal” event to Bridgewater several years ago.
Mayor Dan Hayes endorsed an official proclamation that recognized September as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and announced the Township’s “Together Teal” Advocacy Campaign at a special event Sept. 25 to commemorate the program. He presented the proclamation to Edwards’ husband and step-daughter, Jamie and Jordan.
In his message, Hayes thanked everyone for attending, saying that Renee Edward’s challenges of the disease made him more aware of it and he shares the facts of the disease with the women in his life and the students he teaches. He said the disease is very preventable, but it is also one of the toughest to detect.
Hayes said he admired Edwards, and knew she touched a lot of lives by making them aware that those who have the disease do not have to suffer alone because the community stands by them.
In Jordan Edward’s speech, she said her step-mom made it her duty for the remaining two years of her life that everyone she interacted with would be educated about ovarian cancer. She also said that ovarian cancer whispers, but it needs to be heard.
During the ceremony, Pastor Sean White, of Gateway Church in Bridgewater, asked attendees what they would do with the time they’ve been given. He said there’s always hope, and to use our time wisely making a difference in other’s lives just as Renee Edwards did.
The evening included many arts performances, like Master Zhang’s Tai Ji Studio and the Bridgewater Chinese American Association; a prayer dance to heal by Sreepada and Sreehitha Tadimall; a prayer for a cure with a Karnataki Song performed by Suruchi Kallakunta; and a guitar performance titled “In Relief" from John Buse.
Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health Hospital was also involved in the event to spread awareness and the Bridgewater-Raritan High School Robotics Team 303 was there.
In the foyer of the Bridgewater Municipal Complex a display of teal ribbons called the “Blaze of Teal” was made in recognition of individuals who have been touched by ovarian cancer. Residents had the opportunity to include the name of a loved one who has been affected by the disease and submit their names to the Bridgewater Health Department.
That person’s name was then included in the display on a personalized teal ribbon. There were over 63 ribbons in total.
The display itself was made by Nadine Carr, the Bridgewater Registrar and Registered Environmental Health Specialist.
“Ovarian cancer claims the lives of far too many women each year,” said Kristen Schiro, director of human services for the township. “This ceremony aims to honor the lives of those women who have lost their lives to this terrible disease and to shed light on the early warning signs in an effort to save lives, because the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.”
“It is amazing to see how the Bridgewater community comes together for such an important cause,” she added.
Jaime Edwards said his wife experienced a lot of the symptoms, but attributed them to being on her feet for eight to 10 hours a day in her hair salon in Bridgewater. He said she didn’t realize this was all part of the disease.
After going to her gynecologist, Renee Edwards was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Jaime Edwards said that when he looks back, he can see that so many symptoms she experienced were dismissed.
Edwards added that in his wife’s speech at her first Together Teal event, she stressed that women have to advocate for themselves and push for testing, and if they are not being heard by their doctors, it’s important to see a different one. He also stressed that the partner of the person with the disease must be part of the process.
Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the United States. If detected in its early stages, survival from ovarian cancer is 90 to 95 percent.
Subtle symptoms such as bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, back pain, unusual fatigue and persistent gastrointestinal upsets may be signs, and, if persistent should be brought to the attention of a gynecologist.