Ovarian Cancer Australia

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Funds raised will help provide essential access to evidence-based support programs for women living with ovarian cancer

About Us

Ovarian Cancer Australia is the national charity representing women living with Australia’s deadliest female cancer. Every day, we provide essential care and support to women living with ovarian cancer and represent them by leading change through advocacy to government and advisory bodies to ensure increased, targeted funding and access to optimal care. Ovarian Cancer Australia is the only charity providing specialist holistic and personal care to women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

With a 5-year survival rate of just 49%, it’s estimated that over the next 5 years, over 9,000 Australian women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and sadly, too many of these lives will be lost.

The levels of psychological distress experienced by women with ovarian cancer are incredibly high, with women forced to deal with:
• the severity of their surgery and other treatments that can result in surgical menopause and loss of fertility
• how to tell their children about the impact of the disease will have on their family
• coping with changes in their body that impact on their sexual functioning and relationship with their partner
• the very real fear they experience when their cancer comes back, which unfortunately is a reality for the majority of women diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer

It’s no wonder that almost half of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer experience clinical levels of anxiety and depression.

With your help, we can provide much-needed free, regular, and timely access to evidence-based support programs for more women living with ovarian cancer.

This year, your fundraising from Dry July will directly support our counselling and psychology team, supporting women to access a suite of free specialist clinics and evidence-based programs targeting sexuality, grief and bereavement, fear of cancer recurrence, and sleep and fatigue.

By raising funds and going dry this July, you can ensure that women living with ovarian cancer can access the specialist support they need and deserve.

Latest Updates

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.

2021 Dry July funding is helping OCA provide psychosocial support to women when it’s needed most

Your Dry July fundraising in 2021 is supporting our Helpline and expanding our Psychosocial Support Team which provides psychological, practical and emotional support to people diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The newly recruited specialist positions have been filled by Amy (Genetics Counsellor), Anna (Allied Health Assistant) and Margie (Psychologist).

Below is some feedback we’ve received from people who access our Psychosocial Support Services:

• ‘The compassionate, empathetic, knowledgeable team went above and beyond to help me in my darkest period of this journey.’

• ‘I think it is important to talk and it helps to talk to someone who is not family or a friend.’

• ‘Your team were there for me when no else was. I am grateful.’

• ‘I know I’m not the only one to feel hollow and sad after loss, that many men do after losing a partner.’

Two of our wonderful ovarian cancer nurses share some thoughts on our Helpline:

Calling the Helpline can be a daunting prospect, but we are so thankful when people do. We know that this call may be during one of the worst times in a person’s life. Whether it is someone diagnosed with ovarian cancer or a concerned family member or friend, we know that by providing a warm and listening ear we can ensure that they no longer have to walk alone.’ - Georgie (pictured) and Bridget

On behalf of Ovarian Cancer Australia – and all the people that reach out to our Psychosocial Support Team – thank you for helping us to ensure that no one with ovarian cancer walks alone.

2021 Dry July funds has enabled OCA to implement a number of vital support services for woman affected by ovarian cancer

Your fundraising for Dry July has enabled Ovarian Cancer Australia to implement a raft of support services which encompass psychological, practical and emotional support to people with ovarian cancer.

The psychosocial approach looks at the combined influence that psychological factors and the surrounding social environment have on an individuals physical and mental wellness and their ability to function.

An OCA research collaboration found that psychological and social issues such as fear around the future and feeling isolated rank highly on lists of concerns for people impacted by ovarian cancer.

With your fundraising support Ovarian Cancer Australia can now:

• Add four new roles to our psychosocial support team: a Psychologist, Genetic Counsellor, Bereavement Social Worker, and an Allied Health Assistant to combine with our existing Counsellor and Social Worker

• Continue our Male Partners Program

• Implement a new Exercise and Nutrition Program

These new support services are filling gaps in our existing psychosocial services, enabling us to address areas of need which we know exist but until now have not had the capacity to deliver.

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: 

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