To call Laurey Masterton an “overachiever” is akin to calling Lance Armstrong a “decent” bike rider. …On March 6, 2009, Laurey dipped her rear bicycle tire into the Pacific Ocean (San Diego, CA), and started a 58-day, 3100-mile trek that will culminate in the dipping of her front bicycle tire into the Atlantic Ocean (St. Augustine, FL) on or about April 30th. … The purpose of her bike trip is to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. …
To call Laurey Masterton an “overachiever” is akin to calling Lance Armstrong a “decent” bike rider. A few of Laurey’s amazing talents and achievements (past & present) include the following:
- Graduate from the University of New Hampshire;
- Outward Bound Instructor who co-created and instructed the first Outward Bound courses for cancer survivors at The North Carolina Outward Bound School;
- Intern for Nora Pouillion, the creator of the first 100 percent certified organic restaurant in the U.S.;
- Founder of Laurey’s Catering & Gourmet to Go, a very successful catering business and shop for “gourmet comfort food;”
- Author of Elsie’s Biscuits:Simple Stories of Me, My Mother, and Food, a “culinary memoir-with recipes” in which she tells about growing up in the golden light of a small inn, losing her parents as a child, and then finding her way back to them through food and stories;
- In 1999, Laurey was awarded the Small Business Leader of the Year for both Asheville, North Carolina and the state of North Carolina;
- In 2001, Laurey was the recipient of The Athena Award, which promotes women’s leadership and honors outstanding leaders;
- Board Chair of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce;
- Board Member of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project;
- Participant in local farm-to-table initiatives, with a particular interest in helping children experience gardening, cooking and the eating of “real food;”
- Glassblowing student, who collects sea urchins, antique chafing dishes, and old Clementine boxes;
- Italian speaking leader of guided culinary tours to the Tuscany region of Italy and the Provence region of France;
- Active long-distance bike rider and beekeeper;
- Resident of Asheville, North Carolina, where she lives with her partner Chris and her dog Tye;
- Follower of the motto “don’t postpone joy;” and
- 20-year survivor of ovarian cancer, one of the deadliest cancers affecting women today.
Yup, I “buried the lead” as they say in journalism. Laurey is a 20-year ovarian cancer survivor who fully recognizes and appreciates her good fortune. As you probably guessed by now, the appreciation of good fortune is simply not enough for Laurey. On March 6, 2009, Laurey dipped her rear bicycle tire into the Pacific Ocean (San Diego, CA), and started a 58-day, 3100-mile trek that will culminate in the dipping of her front bicycle tire into the Atlantic Ocean (St. Augustine, FL) on or about April 30th. The purpose of her bike trip is to raise awareness about the warning signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and the dire need for early detection. In an interview with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), Laurey said, “Being a 20-year ovarian cancer survivor is a special victory because sadly most of its victims don’t reach this milestone. I’m one of the lucky ones because I was able to feel symptoms early on and was diagnosed in Stage I. I was in touch with my body, I knew something was wrong, I was persistent with the doctors and it saved my life. Early detection and awareness of ovarian cancer is the message that I want my bike ride to convey.”
Historically ovarian cancer was called the “silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the chance of cure was poor. However, recent studies have shown this term is untrue and that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population. These symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
As in Laurey’s case, women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms. Women who have these symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation can lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease which is associated with an improved prognosis. Additional symptoms can include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities.
- Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women, although the risk of disease increases with age and peaks in the late 70s. Pregnancy and the long-term use of oral contraceptives reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 can be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above.
- If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure.
- For women with regional and distant metastatic disease, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rates are 71% and 30%, respectively. The 10-year relative survival rate for all stages combined is 38%.
- Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi (European) Jewish ancestry are at greater risk for inherited BRCA gene mutations. Another genetic syndrome, hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (also known as “Lynch syndrome”), has also been associated with endometrial and ovarian cancer.
- Ovarian cancer incidence rates are highest in Western industrialized countries.
- Ovarian cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers among women and ranks #2 among gynecologic cancers.
- An estimated 21,650 new ovarian cancer cases were diagnosed in the U.S.
- An estimated 15,520 ovarian cancer deaths occurred.
- Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
Prior to starting her trip, Laurey Masterton raised a portion of her $50,000 goal amount that will be donated to (i) OCNA, in support of its work on research, education, and awareness essential to the fight against ovarian cancer, and (ii) the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR), an organization that promotes and enhances the education, advancement and connection of women in the culinary industry. In turn, the OCNA and WCR are partnering with Laurey in her efforts to raise ovarian cancer awareness. “Laurey is an inspiration to women everywhere to never give up and always to have hope no matter how big the obstacle,” says Karen Orloff Kaplan, CEO of OCNA. “We are delighted to support Laurey throughout her bike ride and help her reach her goals in bringing more attention to ovarian cancer.”
Laurey is journaling online in “real time” about various aspects of her ongoing bike trip at www.laureybikes.blogspot.com. On Saturday, March 14th, Laurey stopped at Apache Junction, Arizona to chat with several ovarian cancer survivors. In one of Laurey’s most touching journal entries to date, entitled A morning to chat, Laurey writes:
* * *
These sweet lovelies came to see me off this morning. FIRST thing! Ovarian cancer survivors (the woman on my left is a 38 year survivor!) and supporters, they arrived, armed with teal feather boas and a video camera and good questions. The sun rose over those fragrant eucalyptus trees and we talked about riding and surviving and persisting in the face of chemotherapy or miles and miles of uphill, bumpy roads.
Before I left Asheville I had a Reiki session with a friend and told her that I was not sure I was doing the right thing by leaving my business and my home and my friends and my life to go gallivanting around on my red Trek. She said I would find signs to tell me I WAS doing the right thing. She said, “Your spirit guides will tell you. They especially like to show themselves in the form of pennies and feathers.”
Here they are.
* * *
I encourage everyone to check out Laurey’s Google Map below, which sets forth her anticipated travel route and stops. As of this writing, Laurey was leaving Lordsburg, New Mexico, so please visit Laurey’s blog to learn how you can support her during her cross-country bike ride.
If I were a betting man, I would say that there is no doubt that Laurey will complete her cross country trek, while educating thousands of women about the warning signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and the need for early detection. Throughout her entire life, Laurey did not allow difficult life circumstances and past achievements to define her. Nothing has changed. She always moves forward, living by the motto “don’t postpone joy.” Laurey not only represents a strong role model for ovarian cancer survivors, she is an inspiring and passionate role model for anyone with a heartbeat.
Babe Ruth, the legendary baseball player, once said, “It’s hard to beat a person who refuses to give up.” A word to the wise: Never bet against Laurey because the word “quit” is not in her vocabulary!
In the video below, TV Personality and Chef Sara Moulton conducts an intimate interview with Laurey Masterton regarding her cross country bike ride to raise awareness about the early warnings signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
TV Personality & Chef Sara Moulton Interviews Laurey Masterton
About the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is the nation’s vision and voice for ovarian cancer issues. The OCNA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, leads the national initiative to conquer ovarian cancer by uniting individuals and local, state and national organizations in a consolidated movement to advance ovarian cancer research, improve health care practice and find an effective screening test and a cure for the disease. To learn more about the OCNA, visit its website at www.ovariancancer.org.
About the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs
The mission of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs is to promote and enhance the education, advancement and connection of women in the culinary industry. Formed in 1993 by eight of the nation’s top women chefs and restaurateurs, WCR has grown to a membership of over 2,000 members, offering a variety of networking, professional and support services. To learn about WCR, visit its website at www.womenchefs.org.
Primary Source: 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Celebrates Golden Birthday – Chef Laurey Masterton Bikes 3,098 Miles Across US to Raise Awareness About Ovarian Cancer, Press Release, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, March 4, 2009. Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ would like to extend a special thank you to Laurey Masterton and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance for allowing us to feature Laurey’s story along with her photographs and google map.