Trees of Hope: MOCA and Lori's Story

Updated: December 03, 2018 12:32 PM

Lori Guentzel walks into a procedure room several times a week at Essentia Health's OBGYN department in the First Street Building.


The registered nurse helps patients who are dealing with female cancers, such as uterine, cervical, and ovarian. "My role is coordinating the care for the patient. When they come in, and meet, and talk about the surgery they're going to have, we do pre-op education," she explained.

She's also there afterwards, taking out staples or navigating the chemo and radiation routes. "It can be really tough, but it's really rewarding helping these women."

Guentzel works closely with Dr. Colleen Evans, the area's only gynecologic oncologist, and her nurse practitioner, Courtney. They see women from all over the region and beyond. Lori wants to continue her education, to help even more.

"I think there's a ton of learning to do, as far as female cancers are concerned. You can never learn enough," she told us. 

She recently received a scholarship from MOCA to attend a conference of her choice. "I had no idea. I was not expecting it at all," she said. "I was ecstatic."

Besides her work, Lori has a personal reason for being aware of ovarian cancer. "I actually tested positive for a genetic mutation that is similar to the BRAC 1 and 2. It's associated with breast, ovarian, kidney, and other cancers."

So she had her ovaries removed, and does breast surveillance every six months. She has this advice for other women. "Know your family history. And be aware of your body and symptoms."

Just this fall, she attended her first Light Duluth Teal event, which is put on by MOCA. "It's very touching, the stories of survivors. And the people who have not survived, but their family members are sharing their stories and want the awareness out there."

Because each woman they reach, could mean more survivors, more research, and hopefully an early detection test.

If you want to donate to MOCA, head to and click on the Trees of Hope banner.

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