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Childhood Cancer Survivor Jill O’Donovan “Keeps on Froggin’!”

Posted: July 7, 2016

Jill ODonovanThe CureSearch for Children’s Cancer Survivorship Council was formed in February 2014 to build awareness and support for childhood cancer survivors. We’re grateful to have a team of men and women who are dedicated to developing survivorship education and resources for children, teens and young adults who have completed their treatment for childhood cancer.

We recently spoke with one member of our council members who has done more than raise awareness about childhood cancer: she lived through it.

Meet Jill O’Donovan. In 1979, when she was only 8 years old, she was diagnosed with ovarian germ cell cancer, a disease in which cancer cells form in the egg cells of the ovary. She had a rare recurrence of the disease at the age of 26 and, at age 33, was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer, a slow growing neuroendocrine tumor, which she manages with monthly injections.

Today Jill is a germ cell cancer survivor, a carcinoid cancer thriver, and an active member of the Survivorship Council.

Here are a few questions we asked Jill about her cancer survivor story:

Q. What one word or phrase best describes what it feels like to be a cancer survivor?

A. Empowering.

Jill ODonovanQ. What is your proudest moment/accomplishment in life?

A. Getting up on the hard days.

Q. What advice would you give to a child with cancer?

A. When I was going through treatment, my dad (an airline pilot) and had a bumper sticker on his suitcase that had a picture of a cartoon frog giving the thumbs up sign and said “Keep on Froggin’!” I didn’t really understand then (or now) what that means so I made it my own saying for taking one day at a time with a smile. Many, many, many years later it still works!

Q. What advice would you give to a parent/family member of someone with cancer?

A. Worry is pointless and quality counts. Spend energy on the good stuff.


After a 20 year career as a successful attorney in Chicago, Jill recently decided to start a second career serving the public good by joining the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago as Director of Strategic Initiatives.

“I’ve enjoyed volunteering with organizations like CureSearch and YWCA over the years and always thought I’d make a move to the nonprofit arena closer to retirement. However, I was fortunate to have this opportunity present itself about two decades early and decided to take the plunge!”

Jill is proof that strength and a positive outlook can overcome even the toughest of situations. She is an inspiration to every childhood cancer survivor, and a reason why we continue to fight to end children’s cancer.

We’re always looking for new Survivorship Council members. If you’re interested in becoming a member or to learn more, please contact Sarita Sastry at sarita.sastry@curesearch.org.


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Childhood Cancer Survivor Jill O’Donovan “Keeps on Froggin’!” was last modified: April 3rd, 2017 by Geoff Duncan
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