Ovarian Cancer Australia

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$414,572.66 raised

Target: $600,000


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Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have extremely complex support needs. More than 1500 Australian women are diagnosed every year; tragically the survival rate is less than 50 per cent - diagnosis means that very suddenly women and their families are forced to deal with a poor prognosis, brutal, debilitating surgery and because of the high recurrence rate of ovarian cancer, the fear that the cancer may come back.

OCA’s vision is that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone and this year, funding from Dry July will focus on the psychological, practical and emotional support we offer - addressing the many issues women with ovarian cancer experience in addition to their clinical needs. This holistic approach takes into consideration that psychological factors and each woman’s surrounding social environment have an impact on her physical and mental wellness and ability to function.

Our multifaceted Psychosocial Services team works alongside our Teal Support Program and Helpline – both of which offer direct clinical support by specialist ovarian cancer nurses.

OCA’s current Psychosocial Team comprises a Counsellor and Social Worker and this year, with funding from Dry July, we will be able to add three new roles: a Psychologist, Genetic Counsellor and an Allied Health Assistant. These five roles will combine to create a comprehensive Psychosocial Services Team.

Dry July funding will also continue to fund our Partners Support Program plus a new Exercise and Nutrition project - a free online exercise and nutrition program where women can consult an exercise physiologist and dietitian with oncology expertise to develop individualised plans suited to their needs. We will also introduce a new online cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) tool – an accepted best practice treatment for anxiety and depression.

How will this make a difference to people affected by cancer?
Living with ovarian cancer can be distressing and life-changing for both those diagnosed and their families. The adverse effects of ovarian cancer and its treatments results in poor quality of life. The awareness of the poor outcomes of ovarian cancer result in significant psychological, emotional and practical issues for women with ovarian cancer including anxiety and depression; sexuality and body image issues; and the fear of financial hardship.

Phone calls to our helpline increased by 70 per cent in 2020. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the practical and emotional support provided by a specialised Psychologist, Social Worker and Counsellor is even more essential. Stress around employment, childcare and financial hardship are amplified and more so for women who are already facing the extraordinary challenges of ovarian cancer.

That is why we are committed to providing a range of support services for women. These services combined meet as many needs as possible.

Latest Updates

Michelle is taking part in Dry July for her mother Kim, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer earlier this year

"Every year I have always wanted to do it and I have always found reasons not to - traveling, parties, etc. But this year, the reasons TO do it far outweighed the reasons NOT to. My mum has always been strong and resilient, but this year she has really been put to the test. My Aunty and my uncle are also doing dry July for OCA, so it’s become a bit of a family affair!"

Read Michelle's story: 

The funding from Dry July this year will go towards expanding OCA's support services in allied health, helping people like Susan

Susan, 68, enjoyed travelling to destinations steeped in vibrant colours and cultures. With the trip of a lifetime, Susan spent Christmas of 2018 in Sri Lanka with her beloved husband, Gerhard.

After returning to Queensland in January 2019, Susan started experiencing chronic diarrhoea and a severe cough that she could not shake. The ex-public service union delegate dismissed her initial concerns as just having too much rich food. The cough became so severe that she experienced a bowel prolapse. Susan had been on several courses of antibiotics, but nothing was helping. After five months of specialist appointments, she finally went into surgery to repair the prolapsed bowel, only for the surgeon to discover something more sinister.

When Susan woke up from surgery, the doctor told her they could not operate because they discovered she had stage four ovarian cancer with tumours on her ovaries, lymph nodes, and the lining of her lungs. With a rush to have chemotherapy, it was not until another five months that Susan had surgical debulking to remove cancer and finally treat the bowel prolapse.

Other than the diarrhoea, Susan did not experience any other symptoms. After the initial surgery, she never thought she would wake to the news that she had ovarian cancer.

Knowing the poor outcomes of ovarian cancer can result in women's mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. Susan now waits anxiously for each blood test and hopes her CA 125 markers remain low.

In the meantime, Susan has been able to seek help for her anxiety through Ovarian Cancer Australia's Support team. "Diane Kenneally from Ovarian Cancer Australia is absolutely amazing. She has been a calming voice, and nothing is too much for her.

"I was so scared and devastated with the diagnosis that it took me months before I could even say out loud that I had cancer. I knew if I said it, then I'd have to believe it," said Susan.

The funds raised during Dry July will help Susan and other women with ovarian cancer, including their families. The wraparound support provides assistance from diagnosis through to mental health and well-being. This support includes a counsellor and social worker, with expansion into three additional support roles: a psychologist, genetic counsellor, and an allied health assistant.

The funding from Dry July will go directly to expand our support services in allied health. Along with our counsellor and social worker, we will also add three new roles in this area, including a psychologist, genetic counsellor and an allied health assistant. These five roles combined will offer women and their families a comprehensive and holistic approach. This will allow OCA to provide support not only on the disease and on treatment but also support women and their families on their mental and social well-being. 

Fundraising for OCA will help people like Josie access support when they need it most

Josie Davoren, 51, initially thought the early signs of her ovarian cancer was menopause. The mother of two increased her exercise regime and reduced her calorie intake but still could not reduce the bloating. Josie then put the bloating down to irritable bowel syndrome. Soon after, she discovered a hard large mass on the right side of her pelvic area.

After having scans followed by investigative surgery, surgeons found she had stage two ovarian cancer and an ovary the size of a rockmelon. In July 2018, Josie had surgery to remove the tumours; this included a full hysterectomy (removal of her ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus) and also her appendix.

Having six rounds of chemotherapy, Josie felt confident she was over the worst. Follow up scans were clear for some time. However, 15 months after her first surgery, doctors discovered an anomaly. Cancer had spread to her bowel and diaphragm. 

During Josie’s ordeal, she has turned to not only her physical support around treatment, but she has also reached out to Ovarian Cancer Australia for her emotional well-being. Josie has found great benefit in speaking to OCA’s psychologist and social worker.

“Seeking emotional support in the public health system can often feel rushed, due to high demands, but I feel I can take my time when I call OCA and have comfort in knowing that I’m not on a timer. It’s great to speak to someone who is readily available and can provide personal support" 

Read Josie's full story here: 

Ovarian Cancer Australia's Younger Women's Network supported thanks to Dry July fundraising

Ovarian Cancer Australia's Younger Women's Network is one of the many programs that have been made possible thanks to Dry July fundraising.

By cultivating connections through shared experiences, the program aims to ease feelings of isolation and disconnection amongst young women affected by ovarian cancer.

The online facilitated support and Information group is delivered monthly by health professionals like Fiona Mitchell (pictured), for 1.5 hours, and typically has 5-8 women in each session. 💙

If you or someone you know is interested in the Younger Women's Network, you can find more information here:

OCA develop fantastic initiatives for women affected by ovarian cancer thanks to Dry July fundraising

Thanks to the incredible fundraising of Dry July participants, Ovarian Cancer Australia has raised an astounding $445,325!

Despite the immense challenges of 2020, it has been an incredible year for Dry July fundraising – the efforts of participants such as you will enable Ovarian Cancer Australia to directly support women with ovarian cancer and their families with these initiatives:

The Younger Women’s Network: providing support and information sessions for younger women who can connect with others in a similar situation, reducing feelings of isolation when they need it most.

Support for carers: a new project that will assist carers – particularly male carers – to provide the best support for their loved ones.

Social worker: They are adding a social worker to the mix of their Support Team, providing practical assistance for women and their families.

Ovarian cancer nurses: Additional specialised nurses are particularly vital right now due to the increase in the number of calls to their Helpline, and an increase in the intensity of distress many women are experiencing due to the impact of COVID.