By Sarah Kuper
By the time Julie Lovell’s mother, Bonnie Segers, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the disease was already stage IV.
“When she was first diagnosed, we really didn’t know what would happen. She did well with treatments and was hopeful, but she didn’t really like to talk about it. I don’t think any of us knew she was that close to dying.”
Segers passed away Dec. 1, 2011, two years after her diagnosis. She was 53.
But even before her passing, Segers’ family took action against the disease.
“As soon as she was diagnosed, we were out helping with events within a month or two,” Lovell said.
Segers, her husband, Donald, and their three daughters, Julie, Blair and Laura, all began to volunteer with the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation – a Birmingham-based nonprofit supporting ovarian cancer research and awareness.
They called themselves Bonnie’s Brigade.
The family was drawn to the organization because of its mission for early ovarian cancer detection.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation’s Head Over Teal 5K and 10K are Sept. 24.
Lovell, who is on the Head Over Teal committee, said the event is family friendly and will focus on fun and education.
“Education is a top priority for the foundation,” Lovell said. “We want women to get to know their bodies and to get to the doctor sooner.”
Donald Segers agreed, saying the subtle signs were there for his wife, but only in hindsight.
“She hadn’t felt well for a year or two really,” he said. “She had put on weight but attributed it to getting older or menopause. Until it had already spread to her lungs, she had no idea.”
Now, Segers said he and his daughters want to spread the word that ovarian cancer isn’t like other cancers.
“Mothers, sisters, daughters need to be aware of the symptoms even if they think it is no big deal. Even after Bonnie had fluid on her lungs, it took us weeks to diagnose it as ovarian cancer,” he said.
Lovell described her mother as someone who was always 100 percent involved in her children’s lives, even hand-making costumes for dance recitals and knitting warm hats for the homeless during the holidays.
Lovell said she believes her mother would still be working toward spreading awareness today.
Donald Segers said he’s proud of the work his daughters are doing to keep their mother’s memory alive for others.
“It isn’t hard for us to remember her, but I think it gives the girls a feeling that something positive could come out of losing a mother,” he said.
The Head Over Teal run will begin at 8 a.m. at the Hoover Preserve. Runners/walkers of all ages can register, form a team page, or learn about sponsorships online at thinkoflaura.com.
The Laura Crandall Brown Foundation organizes several events throughout the year, including advocacy days, golf tournaments, Taste of Teal and a comedy show called Tickled Teal.