When Molly Cade was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the spring of 1998, her response was to organize an alliance that would fight what is called "the cancer that whispers."

Some women might feel crampy or bloated, or have unexplained fatigue, but Cade didn't even feel unwell at the time of her diagnosis.

After surgery, Cade made it five years without a recurrence of the cancer. But it returned last summer, and she died of the disease Dec. 3 at age 54. Services were held last week.

"She used her new circumstances to try to get more awareness for other gals," said Nan Emmer of Victoria, a longtime friend. "She recognized the need for networking, awareness and research."

Cade and the late Kris Warner, who also died of the disease, worked to organize the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, whose purpose is to make people aware, "not scare," Cade told the Star Tribune in 2000.

The alliance is one of the few in the nation that has gone beyond a role of support group to being a viable fundraising group that donates money for research about the disease, Emmer said.

As president of the board of directors, Cade was instrumental in organizing golf outings and 5-kilometer walk/runs to raise money, she said.

Cade was a teacher, who at one time instructed seventh-and eighth-graders in "sex, art and Spanish" at a Catholic school, Emmer said. "It was fun to tease her about the combination."

After her first husband, John Cade, died in a plane crash in 1986, she helped run Cade Industries, which supplied parts for the aerospace industry, until it was sold in 2000.

Survivors include her husband, Joseph Cade, John's brother; daughters Kristin Carlson and Julie Nelson; sons Brian and Kevin; stepdaughters Megan Cade and Molly Cade; five grandchildren; brothers Connor Flynn and Patrick Flynn; sisters Katie Jensen and Peggy De Gance.

Staff Writer Kim Ode contributed to this article.Trudi Hahn is at thahn@startribune.com.