July 30, 1938 December 8, 2008

 Ovarian Cancer Orange County Alliance Corresponding Secretary Cathy Salerno lost her battle with ovarian cancer on December 8, 2008, and the Alliance lost one of its most dedicated, devoted board members.  More importantly, however, we lost a warm, gentle, treasured friend.

Cathy became involved with OCOCA four years ago, after receiving a September Awareness comfort bag from the organization while undergoing treatment.  Since that time, she has been one of the stalwarts of the group, always ready to do whatever needed to be done to further the cause of awareness of this killer disease.  She held the position of Corresponding Secretary for three years, in addition to serving as Historian for two years and spearheading OCOCA’s ovarian cancer quilt project. 

Through Cathy’s initiative and hard work, OCOCA’S basket project was created, in which baskets of ovarian cancer symptom cards and pins are placed in stores, libraries, medical offices and other venues during September Awareness Month. Cathy was assisted in this effort by her husband Bob, who diligently attached thousands of pins to the cards each year, often completing the task with bruised and battered fingers and humorous stories to tell of their efforts.

In addition to Bob’s participation in Cathy’s OCOCA projects, her children and grandchildren were very supportive of her work, and much to the delight of our group, they plan to continue their involvement. 

One of the first to sign on for tasks, Cathy chaired the End of-Year Luncheon in 2005, served on the Alliance’ Fundraising Committee and was a dawn-to-dark volunteer at three of OCOCA’S Rods & Hogs Poker Runs.  Cathy, along with Bob, represented the Alliance at health fairs and fundraisers for other charity groups, manning tables and passing out materials about ovarian cancer.  During the last few years, while undergoing treatment, Cathy would attend board meetings, a wide, friendly smile on her face and a colorful head scarf covering the ravages of chemotherapy.  Often, when volunteers were needed for an event, she could be heard saying, “I can’t do it Friday because I’m having chemo, but I can be there Saturday.”  Her dedication and commitment were an inspiration to everyone in the group and her passing has left a void that will be enormously difficult to fill.

It’s amazing that Cathy, who was extremely active in a variety of community and civic organizations, found time to devote so much of her energy and enthusiasm to the Ovarian Cancer Orange County Alliance mission.  Although she lost her own brave battle, her untiring efforts to educate women about this insidious disease and the importance of early detection no doubt saved the lives of countless other women.  What a profound legacy to leave.

Cathy, dear friend, we will always miss you.


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