Laura Crandall Brown was a 2006 Auburn alum working in in the city of Auburn when she received the diagnosis that she had ovarian cancer.
As a lively 24 year-old who was planning her wedding to her fiancé in November 2008, cancer was the last thing on her or her family’s mind. She was an artist, a music lover and an event planner at the Dixon Conference Center. This was where she met her future husband, Walter Brown.
When she received the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, the couple moved forward with the wedding. Following the honeymoon, Laura began chemotherapy.
Laura passed away in December 2009 after fighting the cancer for over a year.
Ovarian cancer is disease that has no pre-screening. While a pap smear tests for cervical cancer, many patients don’t learn they have ovarian cancer until it has progressed.
“That disease is very rare to see in a person that young, so they just thought it was going to be an ovarian cyst and it turned out to be ovarian cancer,” said Jim Crandall, Laura’s father.
When ovarian cancer is not caught early, the survival rate is around 30 percent. When it is caught early, the survival rate is much higher at around 90 percent, Crandall said.
Before she passed, Laura and her family had discussed the possibility of starting an organization for ovarian cancer to fund research for early detection.
“We talked about it. She was excited, but she knew that she was not going to be here to see that true,” Crandall said.
Her family started the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation a few weeks after Laura passed. Crandall now acts as the president of the board with employees under him who handle many of the other responsibilities associated with running the organization.
“Laura constantly expressed her desire to be able to help others who might face her same battle, and her loving and courageous spirit inspired her friends and family to create the Laura Crandall Brown Ovarian Cancer Foundation to honor her life, memory, and vision of helping others,” according to a statement on the foundation’s website. “The foundation's mission was to provide funding for early detection research of ovarian cancer and to raise awareness about the disease.”
There are a few big events the foundation puts on each year to raise money for ovarian cancer research, support patients and more.
On Sept. 21, during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, The Laura Crandall Brown Foundation hosts a 10K/5K race in Birmingham called ‘Head over Teal’. Not only is ‘Head over Teal’ a race, but it's also a family fall festival event with boots and activities.
In November, the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation hosts the Get Busy Fighting golf tournament in honor of a woman, Ginny Bourland, who passed from ovarian cancer.
I n the spring, there is a gala that the foundation hosts called ‘Taste of Teal’. Here at the gala, a care-giver, a survivor, a health care professional and a corporate sponsor are all awarded "Laura’s Legacy" awards.
The event also includes a silent auction followed by a casino night.
Laura was an artist - she loved to paint. At each gala, one of her pieces is auctioned off, and prints are made that are sold at the event.
“We auction one of those off, and it’s done incredibly well. Just the artwork’s probably raised $50,000-60,000 over the 10 years,” Crandall said.
Jim said that during the first Christmas without Laura, which was only a couple weeks after her death, he opened a present she had prepared beforehand. Inside was a painting she had done of a guardian angel holding a small child.
The current project that the Laura Crandall Brown Foundation is working on is a license plate campaign. A gyn cancer survivor, Tiffeny Curier, designed the license plate, but production has not begun on the plates, Jim said the production cannot take place until they have 1,000 pre-orders first.
Since June, when the campaign began, the group has managed to obtain 200 pre-orders. The plates cost $50, and $41.25 of that is tax-deductible.
Jim said that if within a year they do not reach 1,000 plates, everyone will receive a refund. Additionally, if someone would like to donate but doesn’t want the plate, they can sponsor a plate for a cancer survivor.
Anyone who is interested in buying a plate can purchase one at thinkoflaura.org/cartag.
The money raised in this campaign is used specifically to aid others with cancer. Expenses add up for cancer patients and the money from the car tags may be used to help with medical expenses, debts or everyday needs.
“We also realize that a cancer diagnosis can be financially devastating to women and their families, and so we do direct patient support for women and their families that are experiencing gyn cancer treatment,” Crandall said.