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8-year-old ovarian cancer survivor raises money and awareness

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HENRICO, Va. (WTVR) - September has been declared Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in Virginia, and the story of an 8-year-old girl from Williamsburg who survived the disease has helped motivate some into action.

Sunday afternoon, at Bogey's Sports Park west of Short Pump, the Richmond Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition held a fundraiser to raise money to aid research about a disease that more than estimated 22,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with this year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“The problem with the statistics is that more than 15,000 women will die from the cancer,” Julie Seibert, President of Richmond N.O.C.C., said.

That's why survivors of the disease are so passionate about the cause; survivors like 8-year-old Kelly Hipple.

“She was diagnosed at the end of January," Rita Hipple, Kelly’s mother, said.  "She had woken up one morning with some stomach pains and was crying."

Her family took Kelly VCU Medical Center where after various tests and scans, a group of doctors told the family Kelly needed surgery.

Surgeons found a tumor on Kelly's right ovary.  They were able it to remove it right then, but Kelly still needed a full round of chemotherapy.

“Of course she was tired, didn't feel really good, lost all of her hair, but luckily came through it with flying colors,” said her mother. 

At Bogey’s, Kelly acts like any other kid her age, but being around fellow survivors who are decades older helps show the power of her story.

"She and all the other little fighters mean a lot,” her mother said. “It's not just a women's cancer anymore, it hits young girls.”

"We know that these symptoms do whisper to us," Seibert said. "Our body is telling us something, and we need to listen we need to know, we need to know if something is wrong."

Symptoms of ovarian cancer, like bloating or abdominal pain, tend to seem pretty nonspecific to women of all ages making early detection, like in Kelly's case, difficult.

Kelly’s mother and siblings wear “Team Kelly” tee-shirts to help spread the message of her survival.

“I'm the captain of Team Kelly because I started it,” Kelly said.