OCRF & Ovarian Cancer National Alliance are now one strong, united, inspiring voice!
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) have led the way in advocacy, research and support for patients and their families for over 22 years. As of January 2016, we are pleased to announce we are joining together to form Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA), the largest global organization dedicated to advancing ovarian cancer research while supporting women and their families. Read the exciting news!


Survivor Stories / Tributes

Nancy Martell

Personal Description:


November 2005
Ovarian Cancer entered my life via a phone call from my daughter. I was on a trip with my company in Las Vegas when my cell phone rang. My daughter was upset and telling me that moms stomach had became large and very hard in just the past two days and that mom is in a lot of pain. Upon arriving home to my shock she wasn’t kidding. My wife’s stomach looked 3 months pregnant.

Now lets stop and rewind more than two years before that phone call.

2003 The Warning Signs:
My wife’s daily activities began changing gradually. She began spending more and more time in the bathroom. She finally broke down and visited her gynecologist. The GYN told my wife that she had irritable bowel syndrome. He gave her a prescription for an over the counter laxative and sent her home.

Continued warning sign:
Well the laxative did its job for what it was designed for but the pressure and bloating feeling continued. So back to the gynecologist we go and he told her to go to get a colonoscopy. Well she did that and she was fine. The doctor that did the colonoscopy told my wife that he thought her problem was GYN related and sent us back to her gynecologist. This cycle went on for around two years.

The bad news:
When finally diagnosed with ovarian cancer it had already progressed to stage IIIc. If the gynecologist had caught the cancer when we first went in it would have probably had been stage 1. You can find more about the different stages online. In a nutshell, a stage IIIc patient has a 5-year 30% chance of survival where a stage 1 patient has a 90% chance of survival.

What you need to do:
Due to the lack of care my wife’s GYN provided I decided that I would review every test result and the decision that the health professionals made from those tests. Guys, make sure you take the lead on this. You need to be the one reminding your loved one to ask the questions. During the exam it is difficult for the patient to remember everything. So please be prepared and make sure you get answers to all your questions. I attend every exam and come to every appointment with questions on paper.

What to look out for while your healthy.
Ovarian Cancer does not have any one symptom. It is not something like a cold or flu that you just wake up and say, “ Hey I think I have the Flu” or “ Hey I think I have Ovarian Cancer”. It could be a backache, a cramp or bloating feeling that won’t go away, or even a missed or long period. Make sure you tell your GYN about any issues you have below the belly button. If you’re not happy with your answer then get a second opinion.

December 9, 2008:
My wife has gone through debulking surgery, three years of chemo and a bowel obstruction surgery. There were two times that they did not expect her to make it. She has shown everyone that positive thinking, determination and angels do what surgery and chemo can’t. Last year we did not have a Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years due to her bowel obstruction. This year she is feeling much better. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and look forward to a normal Christmas and New Years. Don Martell – Husband of an Ovarian Cancer Survivor

Last updated on: 06/17/2009


I have known Don and Nancy Martell for over 20 years. I have witnessed Nancy so weak – but out shopping and just keeping going with life. She is an inspiration to me.

Frieda Weeks – 06/17/2009

I am the person who wrote this for my wife. Two weeks ago we found out that the cancer is now in her liver and lungs. She had Chemo last week and again today. We don’t know if this will work but we need to try.

Donald Martell – 06/17/2009

I have known Don and Nancy for about 22 years, I have never known Nancy to let anything keep her down, at least not for long. I remember her playing with my son and her daughter while Don and I rehersed with our band. A couple of months ago my daughter had the opportunity to go shopping at Great Northern Mall with Nancy and I for the afternoon, before she started to take a turn for the worst. We enjoyed that afternoon. Nancy is a good person and didn’t deserve having a doctor that just dismissed the symptons she explained to him… One of the biggest problems that we all face, men and women, is that a lot of these doctors think they are god and the patient knows nothing, so instead of listening and investigating futher, they send them off with a perscription that only puts a band-aid on the syptoms.
I’m not saying all doctors are bad, but if Nancy doctor would have taken that extra step and looked a little harder at the big picture, she may not be fighting for her life now. She may be able to see her daughter walk down the isle, and watch her grand children grow up. Tell me, do you think thats fair to her or her family? I don’t!

Annette – 06/23/2009

Nancy is my Aunt, and for a long time, I knew she was sick. We pray for her every night and we wish that she could just stay with us a bit longer (more like forever) to tell her howmuch she means to us. She is our hero and always will be. SHOP ON AUNT NANCY!!!!

Emily Martell – 06/23/2009

I have had the pleasure of knowing Don & Nancy for 6 years. I had been in a band Don was in for only a few months when Don found out about Nancy’s cancer. I have worked in the medical field for over 30 years and have known few patients that have the tremendous courage Nancy has. Patients like Nancy are an inspiration to all others giving them hope and strength to continue living life with sometimes impossible odds. I can’t begin to express my admiration for people like Nancy. God Bless you both.

Bill York – 06/23/2009

Well we recieved bad news today. Nancy will be coming home with Hospice Care on Friday or Monday. She is not getting any better and there is no known procedure to help her. She wants to be home so that is where she will be. I know all of you want to see her but she is not up to visits and she does not want to be seen in her present condition. She is still beauitful so I don’t understand what she is talking about. Please know that I will do my very best to call all of you with updates. Love ya all

Don Martell – 06/23/2009

Some people you meet for a moment and you remember for a lifetime..Nancy is one of those people-angels on earth..My heart sends hope for love to carry them through this difficult time and to find some comfort in knowing that people out here praying for you Nancy and your family… for now and always…love is the ultimate connection to those we care about and God** it keeps us together always and forever…. to have a family brings us full circle to the most amazing gift…the gift of light, love and life…which makes living all worthwhile, and where all of the “best” memories will live on forever and ever…and will create new ones ans life goes on ..and the light of the angel will never fade. Love to you all, Lynn York

Lynn York – 06/23/2009

Hi all, well we got Nancy home today after a full week at Crouse. She sure did smile when we pulled in the driveway. Hospice will be here at 1 PM tomorrow. I already picked up the meds so she is covered for pain. All of the meds are working very well. She is very relaxed. She thanks everyone for the kind words and well wishes.

Don Martell – 06/25/2009

Don is my little brother. I wonder if he realizes what a wonderful Man he is, and how strong he has been through all of this. Our Nancy has fought like a warrior, and Don has been right beside her. He would have gladly accepted this cross for Nancy. Since it was not to be, he has carried it with her, making it as light as possible for her now frail shoulders. We, as a family, love and respect both Don and Nancy. Still praying for that miracle, despite all.

Love from older Sister

Patt Briest – 06/30/2009

Hospice is looking for a Pink Wheelchair for Nancy. They want her to ride in style. Based on her condition lately I do not think that she will be able to use it outside the house. When she wakes up the first thing she wants to do is get out to the mall. Unfortunately she falls asleep before we can get her dressed. The Hospice nurse is great. Nancy is very comfortable with her. Thanks for all the support. It is appreciated.

Don Martell – 06/30/2009

My Aunt Nancy is such an inspiration. Even throughout the tough times, she still keeps that amazing personality we all know and love. She is such a kindhearted person, and I, along with many others, hope for the absolute best. I love you, Aunt Nancy!

Mary-Jenna Briest – 06/30/2009

don and nancy are an inspiration to me. Reading the comments from the other people who know and care for them, they said it all. You three are strong, kind and in my thoughts and prayersThank you nancy for taking don and my picture on the deck for the band……..and putting up with me in the basement with don-o. You are an angel. love greg

– 07/01/2009

The strength you two display is truly inspiring!

Doug & Marie Brushell – 07/08/2009

Just wanted to post an update. Even though Nancy is still on Hospice care the doctor has agreed to give Nancy additional Chemo on Wednesday. Please wish us luck as this is a risk. I am glad we are doing something other than just waiting. Nancy went to the mall with Lynie last week. I think Lynie gets a kick out of pushing her mom in a wheelchair. Better than Zumba. They also visited the local Walmart. Nancy refused the wheelchair and walked the entre store. Thanks for all the support and help.

Don Martell – 07/17/2009

Rock on Nancy!
We are so proud of you….
Love you so much

Ellie Warren – 07/23/2009

I am in awe of Nancy. I hope to have even a small amount of her grace and strength in my own journey.

Laurie – 07/26/2009

I love you Nanma! You are doing great!!!!
Kiss kiss …. See you soon!
Your Girl,

Ava Warren – 07/30/2009

Well spent all of Friday in the ER. Was told to get Nancy to the ER for Blood Platelets. Well 6 hours later they sent us home. Oh yea, no platelets. Her risk of infection is very high. So the 1 hour in the waiting room did not do her any good. Today she had to get another blood test. So that is three in the last two weeks. I was told that her next chemo treatment might be cancelled due to her lack of platelets. She gets another blood test on Monday. She is real tired but I would bet that she gets enough energy to get to the mall this weekend. I just remembered that she has that fancy pink wheel chair. So, god willing you will see her at the mall Saturday and Sunday.

Don Martell – 08/12/2009

Do you believe in miracles? Although Nancy is still ill, she is in far less pain and is living though another summer, which she loves. So much prayer has been directd her way. Just when we were prepared to say good-bye, someone’s prayer was answered and Nancy was sent back to us for a while. Unfinished business? More time with family? For whatever reason, she is at Peace with God,and prepared when the time comes. She told me she is thankful to the Lord for giving her this extra time – so precious, so special! No physician can tell a person how much time they have in this world. They have been wrong from the very beginning. The human spirit, prayer, faith, and love are all factors that can change the course of an illness as well as the outcome. For now, we are happy to have Nancy back and thank God for this respit.

Patt Briest – 08/14/2009

Nancy has been going through another round of chemo after she was sent home on Hospice. She is going to the mall on her own and is enjoying this second chance. This chemo though is doing a real number on her blood. So Doc decided to give her a little time off. No more chemo for a few weeks. We want to thank everyone that donated and participated in the Ovarian Cancer Research Walk last weekend. The total amount the Nancy Martell Marchers raised was almost $900.00. The total for this first annual walk was around $12,000.00. All going to help find a cure for Ovarian Cancer. So if your at the mall and you run into Nancy, please stop and say hi.

Don Martell – 09/29/2009

Well 16 months of Gemzar chemo treatments did not work. We start a new drug soon. Will be three weeks on and one week off. Probably will loose her hair again but she wants to continue to fight. That’s all I have as an update for now. Nancy is looking forward to summer. She is having a hard time with the cold. Where the hell is Al Goar and his global warming whe you need him?

Don Martell – 02/02/2010

I have known Don Martell for 54 years, 9 months and 4 days. I am so proud to say that he is my twin brother. Don is ruff & gruff and grumbly and one of the kindest men I have ever known. Nancy Martell- well, she is one tough cookie and will never give up without the kind of fight that legends are made of. She even gives Don a time or two in the process. What a team they make. In a reality where there is little to be amused at, sometimes you just have to smile when Nancy gives Don a handful of “let me tell you something”. I remember the night our father Joe Martell died in Oct. of 1979. I saw our mother carrying our father leaning against her back, to the sofa to lay down. He was just too weak to walk un-aided from the lung cancer which would take him later that night. I remember thinking what an amazing woman she was to care so much -to love so much and how woman were the world’s care givers. But I see that kind of love and caring in my twin brother and I know where our Mr. Gruff got it from. He not only has cared for Nancy and supported her in her decision, but has also educated himself in this dreaded disease. He has used his extensive research not only to help our Nancy but to pass life saving information on to others. He continues to give back. From the bottom of my heart I want it to be known that in a world of good men taking the responsibility of caring for their ill loved ones, and in a world where my life has been blessed with wonderful men -5 caring brothers,2 great brothers-in-laws and one heck of a loving husband; I can say without hesitation that my twin brother is the finest man I have ever known. He is my Hero. God bless Nancy & Don. Know you are loved.

Diane Martell-Rafferty – 02/03/2010

Thanks Diane, I will be fine. Love you too. Nancy usually does not like Morphine but has been asking for it now. Her belly is as big or bigger than mine, those who know me will understand. She wants to go to the mall this weekend but knows that she may have to use her wheel chair. she got a new Free People shirt in the mail today, you would have thought she won the lottery. What a smile. :-) Big happy smile.

Don Martell – 02/10/2010

Monday Feb 22 2010 Nancy was admitted to Crouse at around 4 PM. ER was great. They took us in and did her workup ASAP. What a great team of Doctors and Nurses. The finding is that Nancy has a complete bowel obstruction that is all cancer. The have her on Morphine in her port and will be sending her home on Hospice again sometime next week. There is nothing that they can do for her at this point but make her comfortable. She has not given up yet and plans on clearing the blockage herself. She did it a year ago and said that she can do it again. Knowing Nancy, if anyone can bounce back from this, she can. Until the blockage is cleared she can not eat anything. So, as of today she has not had any nutrition for 5 days. She has a big battle ahead and I am not counting her out yet. She has not let Lynie or I tell anyone about this set back until today. I don’t know why but she will not see anyone and not talk to anyone but Lynie and me. I apologize to anyone that wants to see her but her wishes are her wishes. Maybe this is her time to spend with god one on one.

Don Martell – 02/25/2010

I am so proud of Don and Nancy both- Nancy’s determination to fight and to live her life her way and Don’s unwavering devotion is to be admired. Emily calls Aunt Nancy her hero. She tells everyone who will listen about her. I know Em has taken many of Aunt Nancy’s conversation to heart. And I have seen the changes those conversations have made. I know it (and we all know “it” is the cancer) has made all of us look at life differently. To take the time to celebrate- big things and even more importantly- the little things. To enjoy doing what we love, be it music or crafts or shopping! To be strong and to stand up for what we believe and not to be afraid to question “why” or “why not?”. To not wait for tomorrow. I am so amazed at the warrior Nancy has become! Those of us who love Nancy wish we could be with her and lend our support and strength. We respect her wish to be alone now and will be there in a heart beat should she ask. So for now, all we can do is send our love and prayers- but call me if you need anything……I love you
Shop ON!

Cyndy Martell – 02/28/2010

Thanks Cindy, Nancy did enjoy your visit. Lynie LOVED the Bob Evens SMashed Potatoes. Thanks again, anyway, Hospice came and evaluated Nancy and were all good to go with in home comfort care. Upped her Fentenal and Oxys’ so she is feeling “pRetTy” good. If she is up to it I am going to shine up her wheel chair and get her out on Saturday. I did not tell her yet because if she is not well then I don’t want her to be disappointed. And Emily, Aunt Nancy loves you and every time we talk about you she smiles. Love ya all,
Uncle Don

Don Martell – 03/04/2010

After a long battle with Ovarian Cancer my best friend and loving wife became an angle on March 20 2010. I am so happy that god allowed me to be a part of her life. I am not mad that he took her away but am happy to know that we will all be together again when it is our time to go home.

Don Martell – 03/21/2010

With your loving sister Patt by your side you stood in silent honor while Nancy took our Mother’s outreached hand and stepped her across to the other side. We know that letting Nancy go was the hardest thing you have ever been called on to do. You did it with courage and with grace even as your heart was breaking. You know that God saw all this unfold last night and he smiled kindly upon you as he recognized your sorrow. You should know that you have a very special place in Heaven waiting for you to take many, many years from now. In the mean time, God has given you Lynie to comfort you and for you to watch over. I love you my twin brother… but you should know that too.

Diane Martell-Rafferty – 03/21/2010

With sadness I learned of Nancy’s passing. My heart goes out to you and your whole family. But God has her in his loving hands now.

Linda Berardi – 03/22/2010

To Don,Liney and Family.. I was so sad to here of Nancy’s passing.. She will be missed and treasured by all that knew her. Her remarkable smile will stay in my memory always… My thoughts and prayers are with you…

Sharon Tibbetts – 03/29/2010

Don- Thank you for all your wonderful work and fundraising. I pray you are finding the strength to persevere in such a difficult time. May God bless you and your family. Thank you for sharing Nancy with us. She was a wonderful lady.

Michelle Borda – 04/29/2010

Well in two weeks it will be one year. Nancy, Lynie and I miss you and we think about and talk to you every day. We love you.

Don Martell – 03/07/2011

Thanks alot – your anwser solved all my problems after several days struggling

Dollie Dollie – 06/02/2011

things were moving too fast and he got scraed. Well he was the one who came back with me when I drove 500 miles to see him. My point is if you can figure it out is: Don’t move there or tell her you want to or even tell her you love her if you don’t mean it! Karma is a bitch and I feel pitty for all the men who do good women wrong guess that is why there are so many hatefull bitches in this world because men mess up the heads of the good women and well they just turn into the run of the mill evil she devils that were already pleagueing the earth. Hey guys keep it up and eventually WE will ALL be cold hearted because of your lies!

Uosef Uosef – 07/28/2012