As a way for our supporters to get to know who the OCAO is, we will feature a different member of the OCAO each month with fun facts and information about that person.
The April/May “Get To Know The OCAO” is:
Toni Sacco was born December 4, 1985 in Philadelphia, PA. She is ring-less and child-less, but has a darling 10 year old cat named Sabrina Fair, who Toni spoils with (fake) pearl cat collars and love. Toni is also in a serious relationship with her loving boyfriend named Scott. Toni has also been in a long term relationship with the art of ballet, having been a “ballerina” since she was a little girl.By day, Toni is a spirited Sales & Marketing professional, and by night she is an exuberant improviser, entertaining folks off the cuff with her witty sense of humor. She finds both of her jobs to be challenging, inspiring, and an absolute joy.
Toni has been with the OCAO for a little over 11 months. She serves on the Board of Directors and is also the Volunteer Coordinator. Toni became a part of the OCAO as an advocate for Ovarian Cancer because of her mother, who is an ovarian cancer survivor of 28 years! Toni knows the value in education and early detection, which is why she is so passionate about supporting this cause. In addition to honoring her mother’s fight, she joined the OCAO to raise awareness, educate, and make a difference in her community.
MORE ABOUT TONI
Favorite Book: The Great Gatsby. I fell in love with the character of Gatsby when I was fourteen, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Hands down Paris, France. And not just for the commercialized romance aspect, although that’s enticing. Some things cannot be explained they can only be felt, and I just feel like a Parisian at heart.
Favorite Movie: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
Favorite Holiday: Halloween – I’ll never turn down the chance to play dress up!
What is the first thing you notice about another person? The first thing I intuitively notice is someone’s body language and the first thing I physically notice is their smile – if they give me one. Both reveal a great deal about the person’s authenticity, and are usually a good indicator of whether my energy will jive with theirs.
Do you have a celebrity crush? Which one? Of course! Sadly they have both passed. God doesn’t make men like Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant anymore.
If you could have any super power, what would it be? I would like the ability to cure cancer or heal broken hearts. I’d prefer both, but I can’t be stingy.
What is the best advice you have ever received from someone? The best advice I ever received was from my mother. I’ve always been exceptionally tiny in size. I’ve always been the runt, and sometimes my size has lent itself to ridicule. I can vividly recall when she dispensed this advice. I may have been four at the time, and I was standing in our living room in tears about something mean someone had said about my size. My mother, a strong-willed Philadelphian, also petite, adapted a “take-no-crap” attitude early on in life. She held my little face and in the sternest of voices told me to never let anyone make me feel small. In that moment, my mother gave me dignity. She taught me to stand up for myself, and despite my physical strength, she instilled in me an indomitable will. My mother is the definition of resilience and perseverance; she is unapologetically herself and infinitely beautiful because of it. I’m proud to be her daughter, and to have inherited her big personality.
What are 3 words that best describe who you are? Grace. Wit. Heart.
The March “Get To Know The OCAO” is:
Tracey was born May 11 in Springfield, Ohio. Tracey is a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. She began volunteering with the OCAO in February, 2013, when she joined the Board of Directors and co-chaired our 5K Walk. Tracey has served as Secretary of the Board of Directors, Chair of the 5K Walk in 2014 and remains a member of the OCAO as the Executive Assistant to the President where her focus will be on our website development; marketing and brand book updating; and, systematizing our communication capabilities. Tracey’s technological skills, communications skills and attention to detail make her a key assistant and development partner for both the President and the future development of OCAO capacity.
We all come to connection with the OCAO because our lives have somehow been touched by this disease known as Ovarian Cancer. Tracey joined the OCAO because she lost her mother to ovarian cancer and wanted to give back. Her hope has been to help educate; to raise awareness of the symptoms of OvCa; to help women understand they can get early detection; and to raise money to help us further our Mission… with the hope and the prayer we will find a cure for this disease. Tracey has been a breath of “I can do that”…to this organization…Her generosity, dedication, caring, and great work have given us legs at the OCAO to further our existence and our strength.
More About Tracey:
Favorite quote: “Stand for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone.”
Favorite movie: “Singin’ in the Rain”
Favorite holiday: “Halloween”
Favorite book: “Outlander by Diana Gabaldon”
Share an interesting fact about yourself: “I was born on Mother’s Day.”
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? “New Zealand, Ireland, and Scotland are on my bucket list.”
What is the first thing you notice about another person? “Their smile.”
Do you have a celebrity crush? “Which one? LOL”
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life? “Marrying the greatest guy! He is my rock.”
If you could have any super power, what would it be? “Healing.”
What is the best advice you have ever received from someone? “Fake it until you make it.”
What is the best advice you can give another person? “Give your time and energy to those who appreciate them.”
What are 3 words that best describe who you are? “Hardworking, dependable, fortunate.”
Our January “Get To Know The OCAO” is:
Nan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May of 2002 at stage 1C. She had 3 of the 4 most common symptoms but didn’t know they were ovarian cancer symptoms. It wasn’t until she had a minor surgery for stress incontinence that the surgeon found a grapefruit-sized tumor during the surgery that she found out she had ovarian cancer. Her tumor was contained, but ruptured during surgery, thus she had to do chemo.
Nan is a 12 1/2 year survivor! She said the most difficult thing about her diagnosis was being told it was not malignant, then two days later being told it was which resulted in her having to go through chemotherapy.During treatment, she suffered from peripheral neuropathy and fatigue. However, with the support of her family and friends she was able to get through her diagnosis. She says she feels blessed that her disease was discovered at an early stage. The best advice Nan can give those battling through diagnosis and treatment is to associate with upbeat people, keep busy and keep exercising.
More about Nan
Favorite quote?: The Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Favorite holiday?: All of them
Favorite book?: Whatever I’m reading when you ask me.
Share an interesting fact about yourself: I’m not interesting! In 1975 I became a geriatric co-ed by going back for a masters degree at age 40, before women were commonly doing that. That’s when I became an academic advisor and encouraged older women to get an education and become independent.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?: I have been on 6 of the 7 continents and loved them all – especially Africa. I haven’t been to Antarctica.
What is the first thing you notice about another person?: If they smile or look friendly.
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?: My two daughters – wonderful people!
If you could have any super power, what would it be?: Healing!
What are 3 words that best describe who you are?: Caring, Organized, Feminist (and my husband added Determined.) 😉
Our December “Get To Know The OCAO” is:
Dottie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008 and is a 6 year survivor. She has been an OCAO member for 5 years, a board member for 1 year and is the chair of the Education Committee. She has two children as well as 2 grandchildren and a 9 year old tabby cat named Battle.
Dottie is the Director of Nursing at The Hand Center on Gemini Place. She had previously worked at an outpatient surgery center for 31 years before taking the position at The Hand Center. She works for a group of well-respected surgeons and works to maintain staff who are dedicated, have a strong work ethic. Her position there has been successful as since this is a small center, her and her fellow employees have learned to wear many hats to get the job done and are able to accomplish anything because they have learned to work as a team.
More about Dottie:
Full Name: Dottie Jean Ballard
Is there a story behind your name?: I was named after 2 of my mother’s sisters
Favorite Quote: “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.”
Favorite Movie: Somewhere in Time
Favorite Holiday: Christmas
Share an interesting fact about yourself: I hate sand!
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?: My children. I divorced when they were 13 and 16 and although there have been some tough times, they have both become strong, independent adults whom I am very proud of.
What is the best advice you can give another person?: Be true to yourself.
What are 3 words that best describe who you are?: Honest, dependable, witty
What helped you get through your diagnosis?: Support of family and friends.
Any advice for those going through recent diagnosis, treatment, or post-
treatment? Please contact OCAO so we can help you through this.
Our November “Get To Know The OCAO” is:
Connie is an almost 10 year ovarian cancer survivor. She has volunteered with the OCAO for almost 5 years and has been a board member for 1 year. Connie is married to Larry Swackhammer and has three sons – Jeffrey, Joel and Christian, as well as 5 grandchildren – Emily, Jonah, Connor, Charlotte and Meredith.
Connie is the co-founder of Faithful Forgotten Best Friends (FFBF) – a charitable, non-profit organization which works to improve the quality of life for pets of the homeless and less fortunate through educating their owners and providing pet food, vet care, vaccinations, and spay and neutering assistance. In 2013, Connie was chosen as one of Sunny 95’s Top 20 Outstanding Women for her work with FFBF.
More about Connie:
Favorite Quote: “At the end of the day, you will not remember the person with the beautiful face, but you will remember the person with the most beautiful heart and soul.”
Favorite Book: “I’m actually writing a book – it’s working title is ‘My name is not Job.'”
Fun Fact: “I’m a mixed media artist and a wanna be a stand-up comedian.”
Travel: “I’d like to go to Ireland to finish research on my genealogy. I have been working on it for almost ten years now.
Proudest Accomplishment: “My family is first of course – they are amazing and I am so very proud of them. They are my source of joy. The second proudest accomplishment is co-founding Faithful Forgotten Best Friends (FFBF.) Without FFBF, many pets would not be able to stay with their owners until they get into housing. These pets are often the last thing these folks have and they mean everything to them. Helping them is so very rewarding.”
Best advice you could give someone?: “Always be true to yourself. Don’t settle, compromise or change because someone else thinks you should. Value yourself and trust your gut.”
Why did you join the OCAO?: “I joined the OCAO because I had ovarian cancer and I wanted to share my story. I tell survivors to not be afraid to ask questions, insist on answers, be your own advocate, and know you can survive this and your life can be very good and meaningful. Cancer does not define you – it’s an illness, not you. And finally attitude is everything! Think strong. Be strong, think positive and it will create a positive atmosphere, and trust your instinct. It is a God given gift that acts as your compass to lead you.”