Some Light for Survivors

Ovarian cancer is a pernicious disease. You can help fight it, and there’s no better time than now.

Full disclosure: This one is for a friend.

Tamra Brittingham was my editor when I went to work at The Delaware State News in November 1991. A short time later, she was made publisher.

Tammy was a perfect fit for the job: a graduate of Cape Henlopen High School and the University of Delaware who went to work as a reporter, then rose through the ranks in the newsroom.

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A good publisher has real feeling for the people she serves. Tammy knew the community like no one but a native could, so she had a special ethic. She served that public well, whether through the paper’s community activities, her involvement in Dover Rotary and other groups, or her friendships.

In November 2006, on the verge of some big, exciting life changes, Tammy learned she had ovarian cancer. Urgent surgery was followed by chemotherapy and, two years later, a recurrence.

Ovarian cancer is one of the most insidious cancers. It can be treated with some success when diagnosed early, but early diagnoses are difficult to make. By the time most women discover they’re ill, the cancer is usually very advanced. What’s more, “There’s a side to cancer beyond the medical treatment that is really debilitating,” Tammy says: an immediate financial hardship. Most insurance companies don’t reimburse for ovarian cancer treatments or medication.

To help, Tammy and her husband established The Starrlight Fund through the Delaware Community Foundation a year ago. The fund provides emergency financial assistance for ovarian cancer survivors downstate. The fund will make its first distribution announcements this month, which is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and will eventually expand to a statewide effort.

Ovarian cancer does not attract the research funding of more common cancers, like breast cancer or prostate cancer, and the women who could become advocates usually succumb to the disease before they can start their work. Tammy is in remission. It is my hope that she, Starrlight and their supporters might help change things.

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You can help by contributing via the Delaware Community Foundation, and, ladies, by communicating with your doctors. Here’s to your health.


Mark’s Day Book
  • Many thanks to Dace Blaskovitz for the invitation to chat during his “Money and Politics in Delaware” show on WILM. We may lean in opposite directions politically, but we found plenty of common ground during discussions about DT’s recent story on Bluewater Wind.
  •  It’s been 25 years plus since I worked at Harpoon Hanna’s, but I can always count on running into some of the old crew during visits to Fenwick. It was a pleasure to see surf guru Brett Buchler at the town bonfire and a real surprise to bump into builder Mark Beam and his family. Critter Kleinstuber, what can I say? It was a joy to grab a bicycle ride together. I am in your debt—sister Nancy’s, too. Dina and I greatly enjoyed talking with the Fredericks, longtime family friends—former mayor Pete and wife, Marcia, and daughters Holly and Jennie. Highlight of summer vacation: crab night with the folks, the in-laws and my aunt, uncle and cousin on good ol’ Essex Street. And a shameless plug: No one makes fudge like The Seaside Country Store makes fudge. Wilmington may be home, but Fenwick is the true mother of my soul.
  •  No one connects people like PR wiz Sam Waltz. Sam drops an email one day, which says, in so many words, “You two have the same last name. Any relation?” It turns out that the other recipient, Jim Nardone, of Philly, and his sibs are distant cousins. (Our grandfathers were brothers.) Many thanks, Sam. I can always count on some interesting new link from you. 

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