Sister steps up after ovarian cancer diagnosis

This weekend, thousands of women and their family members will gather in Edina to fight a disease that has no test for detection.

On Saturday morning, the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance is hosting its annual HOM Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer at Rosland Park.

Among the participants are 40 members of “Team Jeni” supporting Jeni Underwood, who is fighting ovarian cancer for the fifth time.

Her diagnosis came five years ago when she was only 30 years old.

“I was feeling full faster and I was losing quite a bit of weight. But having a small child, my youngest daughter was only about 9 months old, so I was happy I was losing weight,” Underwood said.

Underwood did not realize she was having symptoms of ovarian cancer. The symptoms often go unnoticed until the disease has spread, making it one of the most difficult cancers to treat.

“I had been having a lot of pains in my stomach and so I went into the doctor, I got sent back home. After going in a few times we did some ultrasounds and that’s when we found the cancer,” Underwood said.

Fast forward five years and Underwood is still fighting.

Without hesitation, “Team Jeni” has stepped up, especially Underwood’s sister, Amy Danielson.

“She is my baby sister,” Danielson said. “Anything Jeni has ever needed in her entire life, but especially now, having to fight this. And not only the first time, or the second time, but this is her fifth bout with this awful disease. And she works full time. And she has a 5-year-old, and she has a 9-year-old. She has a lot on her plate.”

“My family has all been amazing and they’ve been there for me for everything,” Underwood said. “They’ve been there for all my treatments, they’ve been there for my surgeries, they’ve been there to help with my children.”

“Whether it's picking up kids or dropping off kids or helping with household chores… You name it, and all she has to do is call and we're there because that's what family is about,” Danielson said.

This weekend, Underwood’s family is stepping up once again during the HOM Teal Strides event. The event raises money for awareness and research, focused on developing a diagnostic test for earlier detection. It is one of the largest events of its kind across the country, with a fundraising goal of $300-thousand.

“It's meant a lot to have them there. It definitely would have been much more difficult to do all of this without them,” Underwood said.

Online registration for the event ends at noon on Thursday, but participants can register in person starting at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

You can find more information at the MN Ovarian website.