Trailblazers – Successful International Entrepreneurs | Runsi Sen
We recently spotted her walking the ramp at our very own 3rd International Mothers’ Day Soiree as a woman of substance. Runsi Sen caught our attention last year when she introduced herself at the Fox 26 Studios as the Founder of Ovarcome. Her dedication is an inspiration and when she shares her story about the foundation it will bring tears to your eyes. Lights Camera Action Houston International Society News is thrilled to introduce Runsi Sen in our new Trailblazers Series.
Ruchi Mukherjee sat down with her fellow Bengali friend, Runsi Sen to learn more about her mother to whom she dedicated this foundation, her goals and more.
My Mom was an amazingly beautiful woman – both inside and out. My mother was the rock of my life. No one has inspired and loved me like she did – she was my best friend, my worst critic, my teacher, my mentor and the person I could always seek forgiveness from. We had a connection of lifetimes. She was diagnosed with stage IV Ovarian Cancer in early 2008. We fought against her cancer for almost one year, but there was no chance for us to win. She passed away leaving me confused and directionless. I struggled to embrace the peace of mind that comes with knowing it is over, that we have reached the end of the road.
During this time of internalizing the loss of my mother, I had two back to back miscarriages, a fact I struggled to come to terms with for several years. I felt like I was being pulled into an abyss of misery. I realized I was faced with a choice to give in or lean in. I decided to lean in. I responded to my life’s calling and in my mother’s memory, founded Ovarcome – a global ovarian cancer foundation. Our mission at Ovarcome is to raise global awareness, to fund research in search of cures, and to provide financial support to underprivileged women in the US as well as developing nations in their valiant fight against ovarian cancer. Ovarcome is my purpose and passion in life: my humble effort to keep my mother’s spirit alive through this foundation.
How do you plan to make an impact in the Houston community?
Ovarcome has been blessed to have the support of all major hospitals and healthcare institutions in the city of Houston. In partnership with MD Anderson and Rice University, we have hosted several workshops and seminars in Houston to raise awareness on ovarian and other forms of women’s cancers. We offer OvarCare, our financial assistance program for underprivileged ovarian cancer patients via all major hospitals in Houston, including Memorial Hermann, The Methodist, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and St. Luke’s. We have already provided two research grants to MD Anderson and plan to continue to expand our relationship in years to come. We have also recently started hosting support groups for our survivors within the Houston community, as well as hosting on-site corporate awareness workshops in companies like Shell and JP Morgan Chase. Since our inception, our workshops have been attended by hundreds of participants: survivors, caregivers, as well as general population. We have supported several women in Houston via our OvarCare financial support package – representing all ages, background and ethnicities. Our work has just begun – we are working tirelessly towards our objective to provide end-to-end support to all ovarian survivors and their family members within the Houston community.
As an immigrant woman how has this city inspired you in following your dreams?
My first port of entry into the US was Austin – my MBA admission into Rice University brought me to Houston in 2002. Houston is a wonderful international gateway – a city that has something to offer to everyone! I made lifelong friends during my first 2 years at Rice and made some amazing connections in corporate America. I have been blessed to have incredible support from the Houston community in creating and building Ovarcome. All the success and recognition that Ovarcome has achieved is due to the support, love, and faith of the Houston community. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to all Houstonians for believing in Ovarcome and for showering us with blessings and opportunities in order for us to grow.
This year marked the 2nd Annual Gala for your foundation. Tell us how did it feel and how was it?
Yes, this is Ovarcome’s 3rd year and 2nd Gala. We had a very beautiful and meaningful event this year that was attended by 200 people from the diverse Houston community. Our amazing survivors were honored at our event along with Dr. Robert C. Bast, the physician who discovered CA – 125, arguably the only effective biomarker for ovarian cancer, Karen Shayne, ovarian survivor and co-founder of Women Survivors Alliance (one of the largest survivor alliances in the nation), and Manisha Koirala, an international movie actress and Ovarcome’s Global Ambassador. We raised more than $100,000 this year including a few multi-year pledges – we couldn’t have been happier given our organization is still so young! It was a glamorous night of love, laughter, hope and joy!
What do you love about Houston and being part of the International Mothers’ Day Soiree?
Houston is very special to me – it is the city for my 2nd Act in life! The place where I rediscovered myself, recreated my vision, and took the major leap of faith to pursue the passion and purpose of my life, Ovarcome. Houston made it possible for me to realize my dream to create a change, to make a difference.
My biggest identity in life is that of a Mother. International Mothers’ Day Soiree brought together the two most precious loves of my life: my boys and Ovarcome, in an amazing celebration of motherhood, and purposeful impact to the Houston community. I am truly privileged to be a 2015 honoree and wish Ruchi and LCA much success in years to come.