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History of the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance

The Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) was created in 2005 when an independent ovarian cancer support group, comprised of several determined survivors and the group’s facilitator decided to form a non-profit organization. The goal was to increase support to those with ovarian cancer and raise awareness of the disease in the larger population.

A significant memorial donation was received from Jim Griesmer and the family of his wife Nicki Stoner to ensure that the support group, that had helped Nicki significantly during her ovarian cancer battle, could continue its services. The support group was named Nicki’s Circle in her honor. The original facilitator, Susan Hess, became the group’s leader.

As COCA has grown, we’ve stayed true to our core mission of providing support to those affected by ovarian cancer, and to promote awareness and early detection of ovarian cancer through advocacy and education. 

Nicki’s Circle has expanded to aid women with all gynecologic cancers in every corner of Colorado through online and in-person groups that provide not just emotional support, but vital information, making the cancer journey more manageable.

Recognizing the vital need for emotional support whether survivors are newly diagnosed or have been in the battle for years, COCA developed an individual counseling program. Sessions are available for survivors and their care partners and are free of charge.

COCA also added a peer-to-peer mentor network that enables newly diagnosed survivors to connect with those who have traveled the path before them.

While emotional support is central to COCA’s mission, we recognize that an ovarian cancer diagnosis very often causes financial hardship and distress.

Our COCA Cares Financial Assistance program was introduced in 2012 and provides funding for those in treatment to help meet urgent cash needs. This assistance has proven to lessen the stress and financial burden for survivors at a very critical time in their lives.

While cash assistance is helpful, we know that cancer treatments can be expensive and worrying about finances can get in the way of survivors regaining their health. In 2017, we launched our Carol’s Wish Financial Navigation program to help those diagnosed with all gynecologic cancers, regardless of income, insurance coverage, or citizenship status. Named after Carol Dauer, the program not only assists survivors by helping them navigate insurance coverage, but our representatives also work to optimize insurance coverage, help the survivor find additional monetary grant resources, and provide resource information to help minimize the financial impact of living with gynecologic cancer.


  • COCA works to create and promote resources that provide support, encourage networking, and provide information to those diagnosed with all gynecologic cancers. 
  • Our goal is to unite and educate individuals, the medical community, and organizations to overcome gynecologic cancers.
  • Our efforts also increase awareness of symptoms and risk factors of ovarian cancer in the general population. 
  • And we strive to help advance ovarian cancer research toward a better treatment, diagnosis, and eventual cure for the disease.

COCA’s original vision was to help those diagnosed with ovarian cancer by providing a support group, enabling survivors to realize they are not alone on their cancer journey. That assistance remains at the heart of all we do to this day.

By providing meaningful emotional and financial assistance to survivors, COCA programs lighten the burden of the cancer experience and create a community of support and caring for survivors and care partners.

Our ultimate goal, our central mission, is to let them know they are not alone.

COCA is here to help.