By Joel Hall
In 1970, when she was just eight-years old, Julia Jones, and her seven siblings, were left without a mother.
It was years later when Jones, now a Clayton State University integrated studies major, learned her mother had died of ovarian cancer.
As an adult, Jones found the tests for ovarian cancer expensive, often inaccurate, and difficult to get health insurance providers to cover. Last fall, and again this spring, Jones became a publicist intern for Ovarian Cycle, an organization dedicated to raising money and awareness to fight the disease.
This Saturday, Jones will assist in the Ovarian Cycle "Ride to Change the Future," which will take place from 9 a.m., to 3 p.m., at the Midtown Athletic Club at Windy Hill in Sandy Springs. During the event, more than 150 volunteers will ride 100 "virtual miles" on stationary bicycles, in order to raise money for ovarian cancer research programs.
Since becoming the publicist for Ovarian Cycle in 2007, Jones has been instrumental in helping establish offices of the Sandy Springs-based non-profit in Broomfield, Colo., and Birmingham, Ala.
She said the cause is close to her heart. "So many years have passed since my mom passed away, and not that much has been done" to treat and solve ovarian cancer, said Jones. "When I came across the Ovarian Cycle internship, there was something that wouldn't let me sleep before I sent in the application."
In addition to her mother, Jones said two of her aunts died from ovarian cancer in the 1980s. She said the disease was something they didn't talk about, and believes women today are still shy to discuss the disease because it effects sexual organs.
"For years, we didn't know what mom died from," said Jones. "It was something that was kind of stuffed under the rug." She said it is "critical" for young women to learn about the disease and its symptoms, which are subtle and often mirror menstrual pains.
Anne Ehlers, executive director of Ovarian Cycle, said another reason money is needed, the current tests for ovarian cancer are not specific.
"It's a very general bio marker," said Ehlers. She said the CA-125 blood test used to detect ovarian cancer identifies antigens which can be affected by multiple variables.
"Other things can heighten your CA-125, so you can have a heightened CA-125 level, but not have ovarian cancer," said Ehlers. "The only way to accurately diagnose ovarian cancer now is through surgery. What we're looking for is something that's accurate ... something that's affordable, and something that can be done during your annual exam."
Ehlers said Jones has been "essential in getting the word out about ovarian cancer."
Jones hopes to help the Ovarian Cycle organization meet its 2008 fund-raising goal of $200,000. They already have $150,000.
"We are going to make an important difference in some woman's life, somewhere ... that's what's important," Jones said.
To register for the Ovarian Cycle "Ride to Change the Future," go to www.ovariancycle.org.