Sewickley Heights couple donate $2 million to Allegheny Health Network to study ovarian cancer

Friday, October 20, 2017 | 2:09 PM


The diagnosis of ovarian cancer came 11 years ago, when Julie McMullen was 27 and had a daughter in first grade.

“It was scary for everybody,” said McMullen, 38, of Sewickley Heights. “The doubts do take over and you have to stay strong.”

McMullen and her husband, Michael, credit her doctor, Thomas C. Krivak, with her successful treatment and recovery. Krivak is a gynecologic oncologist at Allegheny Health Network and previously worked at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

As a way to express their gratitude and support cancer research, the McMullens are donating $2 million to Allegheny Health Network's Cancer Institute.

“My doctor is one of the best,” McMullen told the Trib. “He has been with me every step of the way.”

With Krivak's help, she was able to preserve her fertility and have two other children, Richard, 6, and Pippa, 2. Her firstborn, Chloe, is a senior at Quaker Valley High School.

The North Side-based Allegheny Health Network said the money will be administered by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“On behalf of Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health, I cannot express strongly enough how humbled and grateful we are to the McMullens for their support of our patients, and all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, through their incredible gift to our organization,” Cynthia Hundorfean, AHN President and CEO, said in a statement. “Julie's story is an inspiration to all of those who have survived cancer or currently fighting the disease.”

About 22,000 news cases of ovarian are diagnosed each year. It accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, according to the American Cancer Society.

Researchers continue to find ways for early detection, something that McMullen identified as a key factor in her fight against the disease.

She encouraged other women to never ignore symptoms, which can include bloating and pelvic and abdomial pain.

“Listen to your body,” McMullen said. “When someone tells you that you are fine and you know you're not, find someone else who will listen.”