By KAITLYN NAPLES
For the month of September, the city will have a little more color to it with teal ribbons tied up around its streets. While the ribbons will beautify the city, their purpose is much greater than just to be pleasing to the eye. September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Tony and Judie Lodovico are continuing the ovarian cancer awareness campaign, Turn The Towns Teal, here in Bristol.
Ever since Judie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 10 years ago, she has been an advocate for regular doctor appointments and spreading information about symptoms and the cancer itself.
“It’s not a scare campaign, it’s an awareness campaign,” Judie said, who just celebrated her 10th year as a cancer survivor.
She was going for a routine gynecologist appointment when her doctor had discovered something suspicious. In the same week the cancer was discovered, Judie underwent surgery, and began chemotherapy. Five years later, the cancer came back and Judie went through more treatment. She has been cancer free ever since, and is devoted to spreading the word about ovarian cancer, which she refers to as “a silent disease.”
Two years ago, Judie and Tony were in Florida visiting their children, when Judie saw teal ribbons around town. She found out they were representing the Turn The Towns Teal campaign, which began in New Jersey and was inspired by Gail MacNeil. Last year, the Lodovicos had to go through the mayor’s office, and the Parks Department before getting the “go-ahead” to bring the campaign to Bristol.
“We’ve been blessed to see an even greater response this year,” Judie said, adding that last year over 1,100 ribbons and 1,500 information cards and signs were put out in the city. “People have been very responsive,” including banks, insurance companies, the schools, libraries, nail salons and residents. “We put the ribbons, bows and information out in public places, where people will take notice. We realized it was an avenue that needed to be tapped into,” Judie said.
The Lodovicos, life-long Bristol residents, have gained a lot of support from local businesses, including Tracy-Driscoll Insurance, and the Artificial Flower Shop on Lake Avenue, which is the business responsible for making the bows.
Dawn Pinkowish said the family-run business wanted to partner with the Lodovicos when they contacted the shop because “we all believe awareness is the key, and we wanted to help them spread the word.” Pinkowish said her sister Carol has been making the bows, and her mother Theresa Czcinski, who started the business 67 years ago, cuts the ribbon.
Brian Dehm, president at Tracy-Driscoll Insurance, said the company wanted to partner with the Lodovicos because of the company’s constant support to the local community, and because Tony had worked at Tracy-Driscoll for several years.
Starting last week, the Lodovicos and others involved began putting up the teal bows and ribbons around city places like Memorial Boulevard, Federal Hill and Main Street, and distributing the information on ovarian cancer. Tony added the couple has received support from local churches and Bristol Hospital.
“We just want more people to know; if we tell one person, and then that person tells another person who ends up going to get checked, we’ve helped,” Tony said.
Susan Sadecki is a longtime friend of the Lodovicos, and is also the president and CEO for the Main Street Community Foundation. She is on the committee for Bristol’s Turn The Town Teal, and has been “tealing” Main Street since the campaign began last year.
“I am an advocate for women’s health, and, especially, since the Main Street Community Foundation supports many women and women’s health, I wanted to help out the Lodovicos,” Sadecki said. She added she grew up with one of Judie’s and Tony’s children, and was around the both of them while she was growing up as well. “It was the kind of thing that hit close to home, and you often support the things that are personal and close to you.”
The Lodovicos said they are trying to educate the public, and inform everyone who may not be aware of the symptoms and risk factors of ovarian cancer. Judie added women may not be aware that a yearly exam at the gynecologist won’t necessarily include testing for ovarian cancer. “I never had any of the symptoms,” she said, adding she believes her decision to go to the gynecologist that day saved her life because it was an early detection.
“You need to be an advocate and take it upon yourself and get checked, and know the symptoms,” she said, adding that the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be mistaken for symptoms of menopause, periods, and even pregnancy, which is why it is important to be persistent with seeing a doctor.
For more information on Turn The Towns Teal, and links to information regarding ovarian cancer, visit www.turnthetownsteal.org. For bows and ribbons, visit the Artificial Flower Shop, 246 Lake Ave., while supplies last.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.
By KAITLYN NAPLES