Ovarian Cancer Australia

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Women with ovarian cancer have complex needs. Needs that cannot be addressed solely by their treating clinician. The support provided by OCA offers comprehensive and holistic treatment options, ensuring that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest women’s cancer with a 5-year survival rate of just 48%. It’s estimated that this year, 1,720 Australian women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

There’s no early detection test meaning women are often diagnosed at a late stage. As a result, very suddenly, women and their families are forced to deal with a poor prognosis, debilitating surgery and, due to the high recurrence rate of ovarian cancer, the fear that the cancer may come back. Women have reported that the mental health tolls of this disease can often be as challenging as the physical symptoms, and women having support in these areas is a crucial part of their treatment.

OCA’s current Psychosocial Team helps to address these challenges. The team is comprised of a Counsellor, Social Worker, a Psychologist, a Genetic Counsellor and an Allied Health Assistant, all specialised in ovarian cancer. Funds from Dry July will ensure these roles can continue to support women with ovarian cancer.

Dry July funding will also continue OCA’s Exercise and Nutrition program. Established in 2022, our Exercise and Nutrition program is a free online resource where women can consult an exercise physiologist and dietitian with oncology expertise to develop individualised plans suited to their needs.

Latest Updates

Thank you for taking on the Dry July challenge for Ovarian Cancer Australia this year!

With your help, Ovarian Cancer Australia’s Psychosocial Support Team continue to provide a comprehensive range of clinical and psychosocial support specifically tailored to women with ovarian cancer.

This team includes counsellors, psychologists, a sexuality counsellor, and social workers who provide support for women experiencing anxiety and depression, sexuality and body image issues and financial toxicity.

As I'm sure you know, women with ovarian cancer have reported that the mental health tolls of this disease can be as challenging as the physical symptoms. It is vital that women have support in these areas as part of their treatment. Thanks to the funds raised during Dry July, our Psychosocial Team can continue to support women with ovarian cancer through these challenges.

Please know that these support services wouldn't be possible without people like you.

On behalf of women and families affected by ovarian cancer and all the staff at Ovarian Cancer Australia, we would like to thank you for your support in helping to ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.

We’ve reached the $25,000 in matched funding from a generous Major Donor–thank you!

A very big thank you to the incredible OCA supporters who so generously donated to help us double our impact! Although donations are no longer being matched—we still need your help in the final days of the campaign.

Every dollar raised this weekend will help us reach our target of $300,000 and ensure that those diagnosed can access the psychological, practical and emotional support services they need and deserve. Together, we can make a huge difference to the lives of people affected by ovarian cancer so that no one with ovarian cancer walks alone.

We’ve reached the $25,000 matched funding!

A huge thank you to all the amazing OCA supporters who helped us reach the $25,000 matched funding! Donations are no longer being matched but we still need your help—every dollar raised throughout the rest of the month will make a huge difference for people affected by ovarian cancer. Let’s keep up the momentum!

Celine's Story

In June 2020 Celine, a 48-year-old mother of two children aged 10 and 13, began to experience some abnormal symptoms. Despite being young and healthy, Celine was feeling bloated, and her bladder felt unusually heavy.

“I visited a doctor who sent me off for an ultrasound which revealed a cyst on my left ovary. I was told to keep an eye on it, and just six weeks later, a second ultrasound showed that it had grown rapidly larger,” said Celine.

It wasn’t long before Celine was booked to undergo a laproscopy – a type of keyhole surgery – to remove the cyst.

“At this stage we weren’t worried, it was just supposed to be a routine surgery. I was young and healthy, so I didn’t think anything was going to be wrong,” said Celine.

The surgery wasn’t successful. The cyst burst and Celine’s surgeons sent the cells off for testing, which confirmed that the cyst was cancerous.

Celine then underwent a full hysterectomy to remove the cancerous cells. Following recovery, she was booked in for a routine CT scan ahead of her chemotherapy.

“That was when we became worried. The CT scan had shown that the cancer had spread all throughout my abdomen, likely as a result of the burst cyst during my laproscopy. I was told I had stage 4 ovarian cancer,” said Celine.

What followed, Celine describes as one of the most “stressful and terrifying” periods of her life. The mother of two underwent an intense period of chemotherapy, from which she became very unwell.

“I became a shell of myself. Each time I tried to eat I would vomit. I lost a lot of weight and became so weak. I had no idea what my outcome was going to be, I was just taking everything one day at a time,” said Celine.

During her treatment, Celine reached out to Ovarian Cancer Australia for support and joined an online support group where she met with women all across Australia who also had ovarian cancer.

“Living with an ovarian cancer diagnosis was very isolating, especially given the type of cancer I had was so rare. My cancer responded well to my chemotherapy, so my biggest concern became fear of recurrence. By connecting with other women with ovarian cancer and speaking to the nurses at Ovarian Cancer Australia, I felt less alone,” Celine said.

“We also had access to guest speakers who specialised in things like diet and sexuality while living with an ovarian cancer diagnosis, which helped me a lot,” Celine said.

Thanks to the support of the Dry July Foundation, OCA will be able to continue to provide psychosocial support to women like Celine, ensuring no one with ovarian cancer walks alone.

Nelly's Story

Nelly has always been a career woman. She started her first job when she was 14 and “hasn’t stopped since”. Her career in chemical and environmental management has spanned decades and seen her go from graduating from multiple diplomas to managing multi-million-dollar projects for global corporations – she thought there was nothing that could slow her down.

On top of this, her passion has always been her family, looking after her 3 children, husband and parents.

That was until October 2021, when Nelly was at the height of her career, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“I’d been experiencing symptoms for over a year. I had a lot of trouble with my back; it felt like something was pushing against my back. The feeling then moved from my back to my stomach. I saw multiple different doctors and it wasn’t until my last doctor did an internal examination that I found out what was causing my symptoms. It was ovarian cancer,” Nelly said.

A week after her diagnosis, Nelly was sent into surgery and underwent a full hysterectomy, a grueling surgery involving the surgical removal of the ovaries.

“I’ve always loved working, so it was hard for me to take a break – you feel like you’re making a difference when you love your job and I was very lucky that I’ve loved every single job I’ve had. I also did not want to let my family down, I have never been sick, I have always been there for everyone. However, following my diagnosis, I had to take time off from everything,” said Nelly.

After recovery from surgery, Nelly underwent chemotherapy.

“Until I was hit with ovarian cancer, I was oblivious to it, I was always aware of breast cancer, but never in a million years did I think I would end up with ovarian cancer,” said Nelly.

“It’s a very lonely illness. Although my employer has been very supportive and I had the support of my husband, my three sons, and their partners – they have been my rock – I still felt isolated with my diagnosis,” said Nelly.

Unable to shake the feelings of loneliness, and desperate for information relating to her illness, Nelly turned to Google, where she came across Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA). She called the helpline and was put in touch with Bridget, one of OCA’s specialist ovarian cancer nurses.

“Bridget changed my life. It was like the sunshine had come into my house. You cannot underestimate her influence and her vitality. She understood exactly what I was going through and made me feel so much less alone,” said Nelly.

“I initially felt very embarrassed about my diagnosis. Now every woman I encounter I tell them about it. I urge them to be in tune with their bodies and if something feels wrong, go to the doctor. If the doctor you have seen does not make you happy, please seek a second opinion, I think that is why I’m still here,” Nelly said.

“There is very little information regarding this illness. It is so important for women to know and understand what a disease like this can do to your body. The changes are emotional, physical and sociological for yourself and for your loved ones,” said Nelly.

Funding from Dry July will enable OCA to continue to service the complex needs women like Nelly face, providing them with the specialist psychological, practical and emotional support they need and deserve.