SoCal League Tennis

Community Spotlight: Ginger Tangedahl

By Steve Pratt

As a volunteer for years at the popular annual Queen of Hearts / Vic Braden Tournament run by Dennis Claus, there was no way for Ginger Tangedahl to ever predict at the time that she would someday return as the Women’s Honorary Chair for the event.

The tournament raises needed funds – $1.3 million for Ovarian Cancer Research so far – and crucial awareness for ovarian cancer, a cause close to the heart of Claus, who lost his mother after a year-long fight to the disease in 2003.

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Dennis Claus with Ginger Tangedahl and Kim Beaudette, President of the Queen of Hearts Foundation.

“A few weeks after our tournament two years ago, Ginger called me early on a Sunday morning asking me to repeat the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer,” Claus recalled. “My heart sank. She saw her doctor on that next Monday and was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.”

Tangedahl said Dennis was the first person she called when she believed for the first time she might have ovarian cancer.

“It will be two years in October that I was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer,” Tangedahl said. “I’ve fought it all along. I’ve had three surgeries over 10 months and 42 chemo treatments.

But Tangedahl, who is 70 now and currently living with her sister in Las Vegas, remains upbeat. “My numbers are good and everything is looking good.” She recently began driving again, and will be going to this year’s Tux and Tennies Gala on Sept. 10, where she will be honored.

While in a wheelchair, she attended last year’s tournament both weekends. She expects to move back to California in a year and a half to two years from now.

Tangedahl first met Claus at the Ridgeline Country Club in Orange and has known him since the late 1970s. She said he’s “like a brother to me. A very close friend.” Tangedahl cut his mother’s hair as she worked for 30-plus years as a hairdresser in Tustin.

“If you were to ask me, what is the one word to describe what this is like I would say it is extremely humbling,” Tangedahl said. “I’m really humbled by the whole thing, and amazed that today we do have better medicines. We still have to find a test so that nobody else has to go through this.”

Tangedahl said the Queen of Hearts event has kept her alive. “When I was volunteering I would read through the book of brochures and I knew what Dennis’ mother went through. Twenty to 25 years ago you didn’t live more than six to eight months with Stage 4 and Dennis’ mother lived a little less than a year.”

She continued: “I wake up every day and say thank you and thank you. Just to be alive. Because so many before me have not lived as long with this, especially finding it in my stage. Like Dennis said last year as he lifted me out of the car and into my wheelchair, he said, ‘I’m so sad you have this. I’m so sad we still haven’t found a test to let people know earlier. But you have now put a face on ovarian cancer.’ And if I can do that, then it’s totally an honor to do that.”

The 14th annual Queen of Hearts / Vic Braden Charity Tennis Tournament will take place Sept. 2, 4-5 and 9-11 at the host site Newport Beach Tennis Club.

“She is amazing and inspirational for all of us,” Claus said. “And we look forward to honoring her at our event.”

All funds for the Queen of Hearts Tournament go to the University of California at Irvine and the CHAO Cancer Center.

You can sign up online or check out more information on the TennisLink site HERE. You can donate at: www.qohfoundation.com and for questions you can reach Claus at 714-749-5462.

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