Each September, Turn the Towns Teal continues the campaign in honor of its founder by getting permission to tie teal ribbons and bows throughout different neighborhoods.
It was founded by Chatham resident Gail MacNeil, who died in 2008 after a 10-year battle with ovarian cancer. Her symptoms were initially dismissed by her doctor as the onset of middle age, according to the organization's website.
The ribbon-tying is accompanied by the distribution of posters and "symptom cards" to places people gather in the community. The national campaign has volunteers in 38 states and more than 325 towns.
“In addition to our ribbons, which are biodegradable and made in the USA, our volunteers distribute symptom cards to health clubs, YMCAS, libraries, beauty/ nail salons, etc.,” Jane MacNeil, president of the Turn The Towns Teal, said in a news release. "We also have lawn signs which basically explain the campaign, and we distribute posters to local businesses."
Knowing the symptoms of cancer is critical, the organization said. It provided the following list:
Classic symptoms of ovarian cancer
- bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain/ discomfort vague but persistent
- gastrointestinal upsets,
- frequency and/ or urgency of urination,
- unexplained changes in bowel habits,
- unexplained weight gain / loss,
- ongoing unusual fatigue,
- back pain,
- menstrual changes,
- pain during intimacy.
“The enthusiasm for this awareness campaign just continues to grow," Jane MacNeil said. "Turn The Towns Teal is giving ovarian cancer survivors a voice that they’ve never had. Additionally, many of our volunteers have lost a loved one to the disease, and with our campaign they now can do something proactive in memory of their loved one."
MacNeil said Turn the Towns Teal has received emails and calls from its volunteers with stories of women getting an early diagnosis of ovarian cancer because they read the symptoms on the cards, and of women who receive an early diagnosis for other diseases because the symptom cards made them more aware of changes in their bodies.
MacNeil said that shows lives are being saved the campaign, "which is exactly what Gail wanted."
To learn more about Turn The Towns Teal visit www.turnthetownsteai.org.