The Courage for Life Award was named in honor of Joe and Tyler White’s commitment to the Rivkin Center and the loving memory of Lori White and Mary Ellen Bissell, and recognizes those who, in the face of ovarian cancer, demonstrate a profound passion for life, a generosity to others, and an important contribution to the Rivkin Center. The 2016 Courage for Life Award was given to Heidi Coebergh at the Family & Friends Auction on November 5, 2016.
Heidi’s connection with the Rivkin Center began during her journey to fertility. She was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer in May 2014 while she and her husband were trying to get pregnant. After trips to multiple doctors, her internist performed a CA-125 blood test and ordered a CT scan, which eventually diagnosed the cancer. “We were absolutely devastated because here we were trying to have a family, and we were thrown a major curve ball,” she said.
Soon after her diagnosis, Heidi’s husband Paul began looking for ways to learn more about ovarian cancer and to get involved in advancing the fight against the disease. His research led them to the Rivkin Center. They both quickly got involved and have supported the Rivkin Center by making generous gifts, attending many events, and sharing their story to help increase awareness of the disease and of the Rivkin Center.
Heidi is passionate about educating doctors about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, since often they mimic symptoms of other common illnesses. She is inspired by the scientific grants that the Rivkin Center makes to advance ovarian cancer research. Heidi says, “Knowing there are people dedicating their lives to fighting this disease with the Rivkin Center’s support gives me hope.”
Heidi has been teaching elementary school for 20 years and currently teaches 5th grade in Kirkland, Washington. She is passionate about her work and students, and continues teaching throughout treatment.