October 25, 2014
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Originator of Teal Hat Project continues drive to heighten awareness of ovarian cancer
Anita E. Baffoni
TOTALLY TEAL: Warwick native Mary Ciesynski has partnered up with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and is knitting and collecting teal hats to raise awareness of the disease. Ciesynski was inspired by her cousin's niece, who passed away from ovarian cancer, to start what's now called the "Teal Hat Project."

Former Warwick native Mary Ciesynski is putting her crafty skills to use by knitting and collecting donated homemade teal hats to raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer.

After partnering up with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), Ciesynski and other local natives are pumping out homemade sewn, crocheted and knitted teal hats to be given to ovarian cancer survivors at their annual Walk to Break the Silence event being held in September.

“I really like the NOCC and all of their goals and what they stand for,” Ciesynski said. “I know how to make hats and I wanted to do something in a big way.”

Ciesynski started the Teal Hat Project after becoming inspired by her cousin’s niece who passed away from the disease at a young age. Soon after her death, a Rhode Island chapter of the NOCC was formed to help raise awareness and support families of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

This particular cancer, if diagnosed and treated early, has a five-year survival rate that is over 90 percent when confined to the ovaries. Ciesynski hopes that having this craft drive will increase awareness to help families and the medical communities recognize early signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Last year at the Walk to Break the Silence event, Ciesynski exceeded her goal for 100 hats to be donated and hopes to do it again. The style of the hat is left open to interpretation; the only requirement is the hat must be teal, the symbolic color for ovarian cancer.

Currently living in Arizona, this year will be the first Teal Hat Project that Ciesynski will hold at the NOCC Walk to Break the Silence event in her home state. Of all the hats donated, half will be mailed to Rhode Island on Ciesynski’s behalf to be handed to the ovarian cancer survivors.

“Last year we had barrette style hats, traditional winter beanies, knit and sewed bucket hat styles, all shades of teal,” Ciesynski said. “This year, I bought a pattern to make some head scarves to suit the hot Arizona climate.”

The NOCC does a lot of promoting for the walk and for the Teal Hat Project. Alongside the Rhode Island chapter of the NOCC, Ciesynski uses promotional efforts on social media sites and blogs to get the community involved.

The Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer will be held Sunday, Sept. 23 at Roger Williams Park.


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