EDGEWOOD - Nancy West Romer possessed such fortitude that even after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer eight years ago she didn't slow down.
The will to live and to maintain a positive outlook until the end of her 40 years, which came Monday at her Edgewood home, amazed family and friends of the wife and mother of two and impacted others whose lives have been touched by cancer.
"She was so upbeat and positive even when her own physical health was failing," said Jim West, one of Romer's two brothers. "And it was never about focusing on herself. It was always focusing on others around her and supporting her family and friends, encouraging her family and friends and loving her family and friends. She's a great example of what it means to be a loving Christian person, spouse, mother, sister and friend."
Romer's mother, former Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Judy West, died of breast cancer in 1991. An aunt also died of breast cancer at an early age. Romer was 32 years old when she was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer.
Had she known about the genetic testing, and her predisposition, it would have made a difference, West said. Some women who are highly predisposed to have ovarian cancer will have hysterectomies performed before the cancer can ever begin. Both women and men sometimes take the same proactive approach with breast cancer by getting double mastectomies if they are predisposed. Thus the charitable organization she co-founded, CheckYourGenes.org, strives to raise awareness about the importance of genetic testing for people with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer.
In a video posted on the organization's Web site, Romer urges people with a family history of cancer to ask their doctor if genetic counseling is right for them because, "Knowledge is the best form of early detection. Know your past to improve your future."
"That's really been her drive: if she could save one life, it was worthwhile," West said. "It was worth all her effort and the hundreds and thousands of hours that she poured into this organization to get the word out. And we have.
"We have gotten letters from people that said because of the television ad or the radio spots that we've done that they then went and got the genetic test and they're taking action."
Romer played basketball at Thomas More College - she ranks 10th on the school's all-time career assists list - and graduated in 1991 with a Business Administration degree.
She later worked as a sales manager for Convergys Corp. She ran marathons. She was active in St. Pius X Catholic Church and her children's activities.
Alice Sparks, a lifelong friend and board member of CheckYourGenes.org, will remember Romer for her courage and caring nature. Romer was a great source of strength for Sparks' 13-year-old grandson Alex Zdolshek who died earlier this year from complications of cancer.
"Nancy's raised a great awareness," Sparks said. "We will continue. I don't think anyone would ever entertain any thoughts of not continuing something she believed in."
Romer is survived by her husband, Aaron Romer, son, Collin and daughter Natalie, and another brother, Larry Charles West Jr. of Union.
Visitation is 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at St. Pius X Church, 348 Dudley Road, Edgewood. A funeral mass will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at St. Pius X Church with a reception afterward.
Memorials can be sent to the Greater Cincinnati Foundation CheckYourGenes.org fund, P.O. Box 5200, Cincinnati, OH 45201-5200
Source: Cincinnati.com, http://news.cincinnati.com/article/AB/20091208/NEWS0104/912090370/