Special to the MDJ
As a working PT — and owner of her own private practice, Debbi Chartash Physical Therapy — Marietta physical therapist Debbi Chartash spends her time motivating patients toward recovery.
But outside of her physical therapy duties, Chartash is working for a bigger cause.
When her friend died from breast cancer in 1999 at the age of 44, Chartash was left searching for a way to honor her memory.
After hearing about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day events, she signed up in Atlanta and participated in her first 60-mile walk to raise funds for breast cancer research.
Then, several years after her initial 3-Day, another good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and Chartash knew she needed to do more. She set up a team called “Angels for Angels,” which, over the years, has grown to include more than 120 participants and has raised more than $1 million.
The “Angels for Angels” team continues to run strong, and now, Chartash is inspiring and raising hope for another important cause — ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women, and is the deadliest of gynecological cancers, according to recent findings from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program of the National Cancer Institute.
“Ovarian cancer is the silent kind of cancer,” Chartash said. “Most women aren’t diagnosed until almost stage 4, and it is critical that we improve this statistic.”
Chartash has a personal connection to ovarian cancer.
Her neighbor is a two-year survivor, as well as her childhood friend who is currently battling stage 3 reoccurring ovarian cancer.
In an effort to combat the disease, Chartash will participate in the annual “Ride to Change the Future” ovarian cycle fundraiser in Atlanta.
On Saturday, she will cycle six hours in the hopes of raising $2,400 toward ovarian cancer research.
After participating last year and raising over $1,000, Chartash wanted to become more involved in the event and began serving as a recruitment leader and advocate for the cause.
“The event itself is fabulous because there is so much spirit” Chartash said. “Not only are you helping to raise money for a great cause, but you are also doing good things for your health and body.”
The event started 10 years ago, and is now held in a number of different locations, including Los Angeles, New York and Birmingham.
Chartash will ride alongside a team of participants who will cycle three to six hours in the hopes of raising $200,000.
The lack of early detection tests means it can take a woman an average of six doctor visits before she is accurately diagnosed — and for Chartash, that number is too high. Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer can mean the difference between life and death.
And as she prepares for the cycle, she says she is taking on the challenge in honor of her friends who have lost or are fighting the battle against cancer — in the hopes of inspiring other to get involved and help make a difference.
“I participate in this ovarian cancer ride as a personal way to support my friends,” Chartash said. “Fighting ovarian cancer and raising awareness is my new passion, and it needs support.”