Janine DeFeo

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Teal Butterfly Challenge

Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer. It is the most deadly of all the “women’s” cancers. 1 in 72 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

In 2008 my sister Judy was the one. She was the oldest of 7, a wife of 20 plus years, mother of 2 and an RN nurse. She passed away a year later at the age of 49. Sisters are one of life’s greatest blessings and to lose one is unbearable.

In 2010 with the help of many I formed Ovarian Cancer Awareness Charlotte, NC. For five years I promoted awareness and worked with other local nonprofits trying to make a difference. Five years in I was feeling depleted when, by the grace of God I met a young, single mom named Amy Roberts who lost her beloved Grandma Mae to Ovarian Cancer in 2011.

Since then Amy has been on the committee for the Ballantyne Relay For Life with the American Cancer Society. When we met it was the height of the ALS water bucket challenge and every day Amy would send me messages saying we need to do something…..we need a challenge. She was right we did, but what???

Prior to Judy passing away, my mom, my sisters, my niece and I took a girls trip to Blowing Rock, NC. We all purchased beautiful butterfly necklaces at a boutique called IAGO on Main Street. Each was a different color and we complimented one another as we all put them on. We asked the sales lady to take a picture and just before she did, Judy with her contagious laugh joked and said “make a butterfly symbol with your hands.” I came across that photo, and that’s when it hit me, what if we asked people to paint their nails teal (the designated color of ovarian cancer) make a butterfly with their hands, challenge others and post on social media #tealbutterflychallenge.

Amy and I decided to launch the challenge the first day of Spring as that’s when butterflies appear. The challenge quickly spread on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We painted nails all over Charlotte, NC. Men, women, teenagers and children were all stepping up to take the challenge. We made a You Tube video and an article was written in the local newspaper. Before Spring was over, hundreds of people all over the world took the challenge. We were receiving messages daily from so many people sharing their stories and thanking us for giving Ovarian Cancer a voice.

There is no screening, no cure and very little funding but if caught early enough chances of survival increase. Women need to listen to their bodies. Knowledge is power, we need to educate our girls. We owe it our future generation.

This year we are taking the Teal Butterfly Challenge to another level by offering a new challenge as we build on the one from the year before. We want to see more teal butterflies each Spring. We are hoping every OB/GYN will one day wear our teal butterfly pin on their white surgical coat to help spread awareness and that there will be a list of symptoms posted in every office and clinic. Amy and I are doing our best to make a difference and spread ovarian cancer awareness one teal butterfly at a time.

We would love to see your teal butterfly…we challenge you.


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