Carbondale woman starts 5K to raise ovarian cancer awareness |

Carbondale woman starts 5K to raise ovarian cancer awareness

Diane Darling poses in her teal "Sleepwalker" t-shirt beside a poster put together by her friends at River Valley Ranch raising awareness about ovarian cancer and promoting her Nov. 9 walk at RVR in conjunction with the Run For Her 5K in Los Angeles.
John Stroud / Post Independent |

Sleepwalk for Ovarian cancer awareness

8:45 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 9

River Valley Ranch, Carbondale

444 River Valley Ranch Road

Walk takes place simultaneously with the annual Run For Her 5K in Los Angeles

Registration:, join “Dorene’s Darlings” as a Sleepwalker

CARBONDALE — Though the early symptoms of ovarian cancer can show up as a whisper, there’s nothing silent about Diane Darling’s personal campaign to raise awareness about the disease.

That was the promise she made to her late mother, Dorene, who died from ovarian cancer in 2007.

So, Darling and some of the new friends she has made since moving to Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch neighborhood earlier this year will be leading an official “Sleepwalker” event at RVR on Nov. 9 in conjunction with the annual Run For Her 5K run/walk in Los Angeles.

The local Walk for Ovarian Cancer Awareness will begin at 8:45 a.m. Nov. 9 at the Ranch House, 444 River Valley Ranch Road in Carbondale.

Each year since 2004, when the Run For Her began in partnership with the Cedars-Sinai Women’s Cancer Center, the event has grown from its roots in LA to include separate Run For Her run/walks in New York and San Francisco.

In conjunction with each of the bigger events are numerous, simultaneous sleepwalks in smaller communities around the country and in other parts of the world.

“Sleepwalkers Around the World” is the trademark name for Run For Her participants who can’t be at the main event, but who do their part to promote greater awareness of ovarian cancer in their local communities through virtual events.

Last year, the LA event drew more than 5,500 participants, with sleepwalkers in all 50 states and 14 countries, all to support ovarian cancer research and awareness. Since its inception, more than $6 million has been raised toward that effort, according to the website.

It was seven years ago today, Oct. 30, 2007, that Darling’s mother passed away at the age of 74 from stage 4 ovarian cancer, which had been misdiagnosed by four different doctors who didn’t recognize the symptoms before it was too late.

“In today’s world, 74 is still young and vibrant,” Darling said.

In that spirit, she said her mother vowed to assist others who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and to do her part to raise awareness about early detection.

“She also wrote a letter to the four doctors saying she wasn’t going to pursue it legally, but strongly urging them to not make the same mistake again,” Darling said.

By gaining a better understanding of the disease through more research, and through better recognition of recurring symptoms that could point to a problem, early detection is possible, she said.

No screening or early detection test is available for ovarian cancer, which is where research comes into play. But there are some early warning signs that women, and doctors, should be aware of, Darling said.

“Often, no symptoms are evident in the early stages of the disease, which is why it is sometimes called the ‘silent killer,’” she said. “But ovarian cancer is not silent, and does not have to be a killer.”

Common ailments, such as bloating that does not go away, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequent urination, should not be ignored, she said.

“See you doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during the course of a month, and if the symptoms are new or unusual for you,” Darling said.

According to statistics posted on the website, more than 230,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer worldwide each year, and approximately 140,000 women will die from the disease.

If diagnosed early, the survival rate is almost 95 percent. However, only 15 percent of cases are caught in the early stages.

The awareness campaign for ovarian cancer is not nearly as large as that for breast cancer through organizations like the Komen Foundation and other types of cancer awareness and research efforts. But Darling has done her part since her mother’s death, especially during September each year, which is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and in the lead-up to the annual Run For Her event.

She and her sister, Sheryl, organized the “Dorene’s Darlings” team to participate in the LA Run For Her each year, and Diane has personally raised more than $8,000 and has arranged for various Run For Her speakers at different venues in Southern California before she and her husband, Scott Darling, moved to Carbondale in January after his retirement.

While pink is the color for breast cancer awareness, teal is the adopted color in the effort to raise awareness about ovarian cancer.

Darling’s efforts have included passing out symptom cards during September, which will also be available on Nov. 9. In 2012, she also led the “Turn the Town Teal” effort in her home town of Oak Park, California, putting up signs and teal ribbons all over the place.

This year, sister Sheryl will be leading Dorene’s Darlings at the Run For Her in LA, while Diane and Scott will be leading the new event in Carbondale.

“It will be casual,” she said of the Carbondale walk, which is open to the public to participate in by registering at and joining the “Dorene’s Darlings” team as a sleepwalker.

“It’s not for speed or time, but rather to walk in community and support of those who have lost their battle to ovarian cancer, and those who are survivors of this dreaded disease,” Darling said, adding she would like to see the local event grow in future years.

People registering by Friday may still be able to receive an official teal-colored “sleepwalker” T-shirt in time for the Nov. 9 event. If not, any teal clothing will work, she said.

Sponsors of the local event include River Valley Ranch, City Market, Boomerang Coffee, Sweet Coloradough, Jen’s Café Bars and It’s My Party. For more information, contact Diane Darling at (818) 800-1092.

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