MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — A Madison ovarian cancer survivor has made it her mission to support women battling what can be a silent and oftentimes deadly disease.
“I was just shocked, you never expect to hear that diagnosis to begin with,” Joanie Shawhan said. Her world fell apart nearly 13 years ago. “I could not find any Gilda’s Clubs or ovarian cancer groups, and I wondered, are there any survivors out there?”
Shawhan is a survivor, and a former oncology nurse wrote her way back about going from the depths of despair — to recovery.
“So part of writing the book was something I would have liked to have while I was going through chemotherapy,” Shawhan said.
The book, In Her Shoes provides that path.
“Cancer and ovarian cancer affects all walks of life, and none of us are immune, no matter what our walk of life is, no matter what shoes we walk around in,” she said.
Joanie’s book was released in March, but took more than a decade to write as she compiled other survivor’s cancer accounts.
“I knew there were other women, so I started seeking other women I could interview, so the book would be more relatable to more women,” she said.
The book was fast-tracked by the publisher for print.
“That’s almost unheard of for someone to get back to you in four hours; usually it is like 6 weeks,” Joanie said.
This book helps survivors turn the page.
“My hope is that it will bless many women who are going through cancer and chemotherapy,” she said.
Joanie’s ideas don’t end there. She co-founded a first in the state social support group with Mary Ann Johnson.
“Let’s call our Fried Eggs to order here,” she said during the monthly meeting.
“Our first meeting was actually at the Egg and I, and we decided we needed a name, and I’m thinking eggs and ovaries and came up with The Fried Eggs!” she said.
The Fried Eggs, Sunny Side Up Support Group has about 25 members; the ultimate goal is to provide compassion, camaraderie, healing and hope.
“Because we have the ovarian cancer in common, we understand if someone is still having a side effect or still dealing with something,” Joanie said. “We understand what they are going through, and we understand the journey that we have been on.”