By Sarah Kuper
Just because Cheryl Bourn beat ovarian cancer 11 years ago, that doesn’t mean she stopped fighting.
Only now, she is advocating on behalf of others battling gynecological cancers.
Bourn’s work with the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation and the CanSurvive support group is what made organizers of this year’s Taste of Teal Gala choose her as their Legacy of Laura Survivor honoree.
Bourn said that, after going through cancer, she couldn’t help but be passionate about support, awareness and research.
“I believe it is a spiritual gift of mine to be a conduit, to connect people and resources. I know what it is like to talk with someone who has been through it while you are going through it,” she said.
Diagnosed at 51, Bourn said she knows well the importance of having a strong support system when undergoing treatment. But she said support for a cancer patient looks different than many people think.
“We had so much support but we had to tell people to stop bringing food. I didn’t feel like eating. It is hard to understand,” Bourn said.
At first, Bourn said she felt so terrible from six rounds of chemotherapy that she didn’t feel like going to the support groups she heard about from friends.
Eventually, she attended CanSurvive. In 2008, she became the president of the group and CanSurvive soon began its collaboration with the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation.
“The support group is mainly a chance to meet with women and allay fears because they don’t know what will happen next. We have topics and those are good but it is also good to just have fun,” Bourn said.
More than a weekly meeting or fundraising organization, Bourn said CanSurvive and the LCBF fulfill their mission through education programs for medical students, gift bags for patients during the holidays and research advocacy.
“It seems everyone who has experienced this cancer wants to work in awareness,” she said.
Awareness is particularly close to Bourn’s heart.
“At the time, I knew something was wrong with my body but the symptoms were so vague,” she said.
Because ovarian cancer is often misdiagnosed, Bourn said she knows she is fortunate her cancer is gone.
“I know what it is like to face my own mortality. And since I’ve had it, I’ve known 30 women who died that I knew personally,” she said.
Bourn said she is overwhelmed by the honor but feels she is just using her God-given abilities to help others.
Taste of Teal is the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation’s annual gala celebrating volunteers and raising funds for research and support.
The casino-themed event is March 11 at the The Hyatt Regency Birmingham – Wynfrey Hotel. Tickets are available on the foundation’s website, thinkoflaura.org.