McCandless and van NagellIn 1976, Virginia McCandless, a Barren County homemaker, wife, and mother of five, began a three-year term as KEHA Health Chairman.  That same year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Mrs. McCandless was sent to UK Medical Center and treated by Dr. John van Nagell.  She underwent surgery and chemotherapy – the typical treatments for ovarian cancer at the time – but she wanted to do more.  Working with Dr. John van Nagell and the UK Medical Center, Mrs. McCandless aided in establishing the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in 1977.

The initial goal was for KEHA to raise $31,000 -- $1 per member at that time – to support ovarian cancer research at UK.  In 1978, KEHA made their first donation to the fund -- $550.  The organization voted to continue fundraising until the $31,000 goal was met, and achieved the goal three years later.  However, KEHA’s support of the project did not end.

In 2009, KEHA celebrated a major milestone – more than $1,000,000 raised and donated to the program. This year, KEHA will celebrate 40 years of ovarian cancer outreach and support for the research and screening program by painting the night teal at the opening banquet of the 84th KEHA State Meeting. Dr. John van Nagell will join Dr. Edward Pavlik to receive the 2017 contribution, which will bring the total donated since inception of the program to approximately $1.4 million.

Ovarian Cancer Program today