By MADDY VITALE
Robin Cohen became close friends with Sandy Rollman back in 1999. Their friendship began at a time when Rollman was fighting for her life.
Rollman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December of 1999. Six months later she would be dead at age 33.
Cohen, who was Rollman’s oncology nurse, wanted to do something to keep her friend’s legacy alive and to help others with ovarian cancer.
“I got very close with Sandy and I realized there weren’t really resources for Sandy and her family,” Cohen explained. “At the time Sandy was diagnosed there were only two drugs available. She never had a chance.”
A conversation between Cohen and Rollman’s sister, Adriana Way, gave way to the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation, which began in December of 2000.
“Adriana and I wanted to create something that could help others the way Sandy couldn’t be helped because the resources weren’t available at the time,” Cohen said.
The friends are co-founders of the organization. Its mission is to raise awareness about the disease as well as generating funds to advance research.
On Saturday, the foundation will hold The Sandy Sprint in Sea Isle City for the fourth time. Previously, it was held in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
Prior to moving to Sea Isle, the sprint was held in Philadelphia for 17 years, Cohen said.
Registration is at 7:15 a.m. Saturday in Sea Isle at JFK Boulevard and the Promenade. After the race, there will be a cancer survivor ceremony and some entertainment, Cohen noted. Race day fees are $45 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under.
Since the foundation began in the living room of Cohen’s home, it has raised $4.7 million in research grants.
So far, just for the sprint, the foundation has raised $40,000 with a goal of hitting the $50,000 mark this year.
The Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of ovarian cancer, advocating for early diagnostic testing, supporting ovarian cancer patients and their families, and advancing research towards a cure, according to the foundation website.
While Cohen and Way are from the Philadelphia area, as was Rollman, there is a Sea Isle City connection and major reason to host the event in the resort community.
An ovarian cancer survivor, Missy Dougherty, volunteers with the foundation. She is a Sea Isle resident.
“For the past four years we have done it down there,” Cohen said. “We are so excited since we had to cancel last year because of the pandemic. This will be our first event coming together since the pandemic.”
All CDC guidelines will be strictly enforced at the event for the safety of the participants.
While it has been two decades since Cohen lost her friend and Way lost her sister, the journey to finding a cure for ovarian cancer is far from over.
“Ovarian cancer is a horrible disease and we try to keep women alive with the work we do to further research,” Cohen noted. “The legacy lives on for those who did not make it, like Sandy. That is why we have supporters who are patients and supporters who are family members of patients.”
For more information, visit https://www.sandyovarian.org/