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'Shine a light on a dark situation': Lakeshore, Ont. woman plans run to raise funds for ovarian cancer

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An ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment can bring darkness frustration and uncertainty.

But a Lakeshore mother of two who is now cancer-free is planning to mark the milestone by trying to help others.

Ashley Bigelow is a paramedic with Essex-Windsor EMS, helping others through medical emergencies for 13 years.

But when she was 31, the script was flipped on her when she received an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Doctors spotted a rare form of ovarian cancer following a surgery to remove a substantial left ovarian cyst.

Fast-forward to 2023, Bigelow was at the annual Survivors’ Day, receiving the Medical Director’s Commendation Award alongside some fellow paramedics.

Then she got the phone call she dreaded.

“My surgeon said he said I've never seen anything like this in my entire career,” she recalled.

There was a 10 centimetre tumour in her abdomen, which required another surgery to remove it.

“Anytime someone hears the word ‘cancer,’ you immediately go to like, ‘Oh my god, it's a death sentence.’ And it's very scary to hear those words,” Bigelow said.

After a series of surgeries, a total hysterectomy and countless follow-up appointments, Bigelow recently got the all-clear and will soon return to work.

“He's [Bigelow's doctor] very confident that he got everything. You can go back to life like normal life and you know, continuing to like, do what you used to do,” she said.

And now, the 37-year-old wants to give back. Bigelow has organized a satellite Run for Ovarian Cancer in Lakeshore, a fundraiser for cancer research through the London Health Sciences Foundation.

“There is no screening and that's what the research is kind of working towards, is finding a way to screen for it without surgery being the only option to diagnose,” she said.

She’s formed Team Biggs and has a dozen friends and family joining her on Mother’s Day for the run, including her two kids.

“They are the reason why I do so many things and I want them to see their mom doing things that make a difference and help the community and help change people, so that is inspiring to them,” said Bigelow. “It makes me feel like their own little hero, in a way.”

Coinciding with the London run, Team Biggs will lace up at 10 a.m. outside the Atlas Tube Centre in Lakeshore.

She plans to make it an annual Mother’s Day event, hoping others are inspired by her recovery journey and quest to help others beat ovarian cancer through enhanced research.

Bigelow has a public fundraising campaign and she hopes to reach a goal of $5,000. 

“I feel like if I can share it and come out of my shell a little bit, it'll inspire other people to maybe do the same,” said Bigelow. “And it really does help brighten your day and shine a light on a dark situation.” 

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