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At last year’s gala, from left to right, 2012-13 Ovarian Cancer Canada co-chair Kelly-Jo Wellings, 2012 Ovarian Cancer Canada co-chair Heather Hurst, Karen Campbell’s sister Linda Galloway, 2012-13 Ovarian Cancer co-chair Sue Harper, and 2012 co-chair Marg Churchill.

The donor: Sue Harper

The gift: Raising $200,000 and climbing

The cause: Ovarian Cancer Canada

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The reason: To finance awareness and research

A few years ago Sue Harper's long-time friend Karen Campbell fell ill and had no idea what was wrong.

Ms. Campbell spent months trying to get a diagnosis and then finally doctors told her she had ovarian cancer. "We were really just camping out in emergency wards trying to get a diagnosis," Ms. Harper recalled from her home in Toronto. "The problem is that a lot of the symptoms are similar to menopause."

Ms. Campbell had surgery, then chemotherapy and went into remission for several months. But the cancer eventually returned and she died on Dec. 9, 2011. Before she passed away, Ms. Harper and some friends had talked to her about doing something to raise money to fund early detection. "I told her this would not be in vain," Ms. Harper said.

The group pulled together a gala event last year called Love Her, featuring music, comedy and a fashion show. They got several major sponsors and managed to raise nearly $200,000 for Ovarian Cancer Canada, a national charity that funds research and awareness programs.

The evening also included honouring a cancer researcher with an award called The Karen Campbell Award for Research Excellence. Last year it went to David Huntsman, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of British Columbia. This year's event is on Feb. 28, and organizers are hoping to raise even more money.

"I'm so proud that there is a legacy with Karen's name attached to it," Ms. Harper said. "We are slowly making traction on a disease that is so fatal."

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pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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