OCAZ (Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Arizona) was founded in 2008 when Michele Avery and Annette Mattern discovered a shared passion to help women survive Ovarian Cancer. Michele’s leadership experience with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and Annette’s service with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance created the foundation on which OCAZ has grown. Michele Avery is an Emeritus Board Member of OCAZ.
The People Behind the Alliance
Annette Leal Mattern is a 23-year survivor of ovarian cancer and a two-year survivor of breast cancer. She retired from US WEST/Qwest as Vice President of Marketing to devote herself to making a difference in women’s cancers. She published a book, Outside the Lines of Love, Life, and Cancer, about coping with cancer and surviving life.
Annette is president of the board of directors of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, where she also Chairs the Marketing & Communications Committee. She is a contributing writer for www.EmpowHer.com, a website known as “powerful women transforming health.” She is a LiveStrong inspirational speaker, sharing her story nationwide to motivate women to live their best life in spite of their diagnosis. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ with her husband Rich.
LeAnne lost her ‘best friend’, sister Lisa Wilkinson in 2011 after a three year battle with ovarian cancer. “With my sister’s ovarian cancer diagnosis, my life was forever changed. Since that time, I have made it one of my life’s missions to educate women on the importance of yearly well women exams and to spread awareness about ovarian cancer.”
As a member of the OCAZ Board of Directors since 2013 and a doctoral prepared Registered Nurse for 37 years, LeAnne is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Chamberlain College and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. Her area of expertise is Women’s and Children’s Health. In 2017, she was awarded the Arizona March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award for the category of Women’s Health. LeAnne is an active presenter for Survivors Teaching Students (STS): Saving Women’s Lives Program ® with the National Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. As an STS presenter, LeAnne strives to educate future healthcare providers about ovarian cancer by sharing stories of diagnosis, treatment and beyond, along with facts about the disease.
Much of LeAnne’s life revolves around supporting women and families affected by ovarian cancer, as well as increasing awareness, facilitating early diagnosis, and supporting research aimed at ovarian cancer. LeAnne’s car is wrapped with a listing of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer on all sides. LeAnne is driving billboard 365 days a year helping to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of this disease.
LeAnne primary focus at OCAZ is networking with and raising awareness with health care personnel in the state of Arizona and by supporting and administering OCAZ’s “Lisa’s Fund” scholarship, that provides financial assistance for women who are actively fighting ovarian cancer.
Heather is a 2-year survivor of ovarian cancer.
Heather is a doctoral prepared Registered Nurse for 22 years. Her professional career has primarily been working in the trauma/surgical and medical surgical intensive care units in both Chicago, IL and Phoenix, AZ. Heather has dedicated her life to helping others by working in the healthcare field, and becoming a board member for OCAZ is another example of this.
Heather’s primary focus at OCAZ is networking, support for patients and caregivers, and raising awareness in the healthcare community about ovarian cancer.
Mohit has been on the Board of OCAZ since 2013. He currently serves on the Executive Committee and is also the Treasurer.
Outside of OCAZ, Mohit is the Director of International Business at Dinan & Company, LLC. He received his B.S. in Economics from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, and his MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Marvin joined the OCAZ in 2017. He lost his wife of 21 years, Amy Huffaker, to Ovarian Cancer in March of 2015. She was diagnosed with stage 3C Ovarian Cancer at the age of 37, endured extensive treatments for over three years, but passed away when she was 41 years old. She was tested and confirmed BRCA1 Positive after her diagnosis. Her sister died of Breast Cancer in 2008, and it was later discovered that she did have extensive family history of the cancer. Prior to her diagnosis, this was not widely known or discussed.
Marvin is a self-employed IT Consultant with expertise in Email, networking, and Internet security at Marvin Huffaker Consulting, Inc. Additionally, Marvin works with his two children, Austin and Jasmine, in their family Real Estate investment business Huffaker Homes, LLC.
Marvin has made it his life mission to work with and help others affected by Ovarian Cancer. He is an advocate for early detection, family history awareness, and knowledge of the BRCA genetic mutation that increases the risk of Ovarian Cancer. He is utilizing his expertise with technology and online marketing to help the OCAZ improve their online presence, build a strong reputation of trust within the Arizona community, promote awareness, and provide resources and support to those affected by Ovarian Cancer. Marvin hopes to expand the programs and resources within the OCAZ and implement a comprehensive program to support the spouses, caregivers, and families of those with Ovarian Cancer.
Former Board Members with Significant Contributions to OCAZ
We’d like to recognize those individuals that have helped make the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Arizona what it is today. The following people have contributed significantly to our cause and for that we will be forever grateful.
Joe lost his mother to Ovarian Cancer in 2009. She was diagnosed Stage III after being misdiagnosed several times. She was also a carrier of the BRCA2 genetic mutation, of which Joe has subsequently inherited. Joe, his wife Katie, and their two boys (Aiden and Quinn) live in central Phoenix.
Before becoming a board member in 2009, Joe received his bachelors in Electrical Engineering from ASU, followed by an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He likes to stay active in community, and even created a wiffle ball league! Joe and his family are committed to raising symptom awareness for Ovarian Cancer in the Arizona community, and supporting those patients and survivors during their lifelong battle with this relentless disease.