7 Questions: Tamiko Fletcher - Ovarian Cancer Awareness #iwalk4Joanne

A devoted daughter honors her mother's life by raising funds for Ovarian Cancer Awareness and cancer outreach in rural South Carolina communities.  #iwalk4Joanne



Tamiko Fletcher

Tamiko Fletcher

The saying goes ‘A woman’s work is never done’ but we must pause to make our health a priority...
— Tamiko Fletcher
Ms. Joanne Charles in Hawaii

Ms. Joanne Charles in Hawaii

1.  Who is Tamiko Fletcher? 

I'm just a regular woman with a city spirit and a country soul always trying to make my mother proud. 

2.  What is "I Walk for Joanne"?  

I Walk for Joanne is the slogan for the walk/run benefiting the Joanne W. Charles Memorial Fund.  The memorial fund and walk honors my mother, Joanne Charles, and brings ovarian cancer awareness to rural communities. The memorial fund, along with the walk, will raise funds for ovarian cancer research to the South Carolina Oncology Associates (SCOA), SCOA Cares Foundation.  SCOA is the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in South Carolina that provides medical, radiation and gynecological oncology plus important patient support services like diagnostic radiology, infusion therapy, hospice and research - all under one roof. 

3.  What inspired you to create this event?  

Actually, this event is the brainchild of my aunt and I'm just helping to execute her dream. When my mother passed last year, my aunt says something tugged on her to not allow my mother's death to be in vain.  That there was more we, as a family, could do to let her life help others.  My aunt wanted to have a memorial walk in my mother's hometown of Summerton, SC every year to celebrate her birthday.  With 2016 being the year she would've turned 70, what better year to kickoff what we hope is an annual event. 

4.  What do you want us to know about your mother, Joanne Charles?  

My mother was first a Christian woman who loved God... Not "in your face" but through showing love and being kind. She was everything I needed in a mother - kind, sweet, silly, and support (and stern when I needed).    My mother also lived her life giving of herself to others through a host of women's groups, church events, and educational activities.  Most people don't know it but she owned her own record shop at one point in her life.  And she loved traveling around the country and the world. When she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer, she did not let it stop her from living her life.  She kept her faith in God and never wavered on His word, she traveled, spent time with her family, and did everything she wanted to do. She was the example of the woman I want to be and hope I am becoming.

5.  Who/what will benefit from this event? What do you hope to accomplish?  

The Joanne W. Charles Memorial Fund and Walk is to raise funds for ovarian cancer research, but more importantly to bring ovarian cancer awareness to rural communities.  So often rural communities don't get the support needed concerning major medical ailments.  The memorial walk is also for women.  To let women know that while we are out taking care of everyone else, we must stop to take care of ourselves.  The saying goes "A woman's work is never done" but we must pause to make our health a priority; so we can take care of the husband, the kids, the friends, the boss, be the boss...truly a superwoman.

6.  How can we help?  

You can help by spreading the word, post the event to social media using #iwalk4joanne, donating to the Joanne W. Charles Memorial Fund and/or coming to the walk on April 2, 2016 in Summerton, SC.  Summerton is a small town and coming out to support the walk/run would show the community the reach of my mother's life, along with the mission of the Joanne W. Charles Memorial Fund.  Our goal is to raise $5000.  Readers can donate online HERE or at any First Citizens Bank across the country.  At the bank be sure it's the Joanne W. Charles Memorial Fund.

7.  What do you want people to know about Women's Health, particularly about Ovarian Cancer?  

I want people, especially women, to know how important their health is and something they must take ownership. We must not ignore signs of discomfort and a gut feeling that something isn't right.  So often when talking to women, and I'm guilty as well, we may have a constant pain and we'll say..."I'll take care of at my next appointment" or "It's nothing" or "I don't have time for this, to make an appointment". That's what I personally want women, people, to know.  However, I have to throw out some statics.  The data reports that over 1.6 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2015.  The American Cancer Society estimates, in 2015, about 21,290 new cases of ovarian cancer; about 14, 180 deaths from ovarian cancer, and ovarian cancer ranks fifth as the cause of death in women. (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures, 2015).  Also, there may be no acute signs/symptoms; however, some things to take notice: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling fully quickly, urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often); persistent or changes from normal - fatigue, upset stomach, back pain, pain during sex, constipation, menstrual changes and/or abdominal swelling with weight loss*.

Let's honor the memory of Joanne W. Charles by lacing up and supporting the I Walk for Joanne Ovarian Cancer Awareness Walk!  #iwalk4Joanne

For more information, call (803) 566-0622 or email Joanne.Memorial.10k@gmail.com, or by clicking the flyer below. 

*These symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions, and most of them occur just about as often in women who don't have ovarian cancer.  Please note you should consult your doctor for medical advice.