When Marty Whitlow was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she had a vision to support research into the disease and to educate other women on the signs.
Five years after her death, Whitlow’s family and friends are continuing her vision. A charity golf tournament held Monday at Spring Creek Golf Course raised $25,000 for ovarian cancer research. The nearly 100 women who participated were clad in teal — the color of ovarian cancer awareness — and received information about the malignancy, which affects more than 20,000 women a year.
Whitlow, who taught elementary students in Albemarle County for 34 years, helped start the Golf for Life tournament. All proceeds benefit an endowment bearing her name at the University of Virginia Health Foundation and go to research at the medical center.
“I don’t think you know how important this event is to us,” said Dr. Susan C. Modesitt, a gynecologic oncologist at UVa Medical Center in the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center.
Modesitt specializes in treatment for high-risk breast and ovarian cancer. She told the women at the tournament that the money raised goes to identifying women who have a high risk of getting ovarian cancer, finding new and novel screening methods and trying to cure everyone.
Modesitt said ovarian cancer is often called “the silent killer” because it is hard to detect early. Then, when it is detected, it has progressed to stage 3 or 4 and spread to other parts of the body.
“It’s really important that we continue to focus on research,” Modesitt said.
The golf tournament is one of several fundraising events held throughout the year. Whitlow and her family have raised more than $300,000 in the last decade, said her sister, Susie Neuhauser.
“One of her favorite expressions was, ‘imagine that,’” Neuhauser said. “Even with me down on earth, imagine that, making a lot of money to keep it going.”
Dotty Bohannon helped to organize the golf tournament. She said this year was the largest one yet, with 24 teams, and they had to turn people away.
Several of the women participating have been affected by ovarian cancer, said Claudia Hartland, a tournament organizer, at lunch following the round.
For Hartland, who is fighting ovarian cancer herself, the tournament is a way to raise awareness.
“We have so much work to do,” she said.
Hartland pointed out that all the money raised goes to the research lab.
“It’s really pivotal,” she said. “Research is all we have.”
Those interested in donating can call Danica Rose with the UVa Health Foundation at (434) 924-1646.