Better treatments are needed now for women with gynaecological cancers.
Please help us make this happen.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer? To be told you have ovarian cancer? Every single day 12 women will be diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer and four will die. Gynaecological cancers are not well known or even spoken about in the community. Too many women are dying from these cancers.
New treatments are needed. Did you know that virtually every advance in cancer survival has been made on the back of a clinical trial? This is what the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group is all about: breakthrough research and new treatments.
We urgently need your support to improve the lives of women with a gynaecological cancer.
Mary is just one of the thousands of women diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer. Here is her story…
I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in June 2012. It came as a shock as I had little-to-no symptoms. I had been having a little difficulty urinating and my girth was expanding – however I just put those things down to motherhood and a middle-age spread. In hindsight, I do remember one day feeling a movement in my abdomen and thinking how it felt like the first movements of pregnancy, which was really odd. That must have been how quickly the tumour was growing.
I thought I was pretty healthy and only went to the doctor for my annual Pap test and breast check. When I told her that I was having trouble urinating she suggested I have an internal check-up, felt a lump in my abdomen and sent me off for an ultrasound. The ultrasound took forever and the stenographer asked me a thousand questions and by the end of it I knew they had discovered something sinister. I knew I had ovarian cancer.
Within two weeks I had debulking surgery, followed by 5 months of chemotherapy. Then I went into remission!
I was only 47 when I was diagnosed and my surgeon suggested that as this was quite young for ovarian cancer diagnosis, I might have the BRCA1 gene. It turns out he was right.
What does this mean for my daughters?
I have two daughters – one has had the genetic test and has the gene, the other doesn’t want to take the test at this stage. It’s horrible that the BRCA1 ovarian cancer gene is prevalent in my family, however knowing that it exists, means that my kids (and their kids) will be able to make informed decisions about reducing their risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Knowing my status, I decided to have a preventative mastectomy and reconstructive surgery and it was during this time that my CA125 protein level – the marker used to detect signs of ovarian cancer – began to rise. In November 2014, just days after my reconstructive surgery, a PET scan indicated that secondary cancers had returned in a number of places.
The importance of being on a clinical trial
It was at this time my oncologist, a member of the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG), recommended that I participate in a gynaecological cancer clinical trial. I have been on the trial since December 2014 and participating merely involves a blood test and treatment every three weeks and a CT scan every three months.
The trial is conducted by ANZGOG and the good news is it’s working for me.
I am now just on chemotherapy which aims to reduce the size and spread of my tumours. Overall my tumours have shrunk by 78% … and continue to shrink.
I will continue with this treatment until it stops working – and it will unfortunately
stop working one day. That is why we desperately need more funds for research to go
to organisations like ANZGOG.
Each woman responds differently to chemotherapy, however since being on the trial I haven’t experienced any side effects apart from occasionally feeling tired and having dry eyes. I do everything I did before diagnosis – I still exercise regularly, I go out on the weekends, see my friends. My quality of life is excellent. I feel great.
ANZGOG can put a woman on a clinical trial for as little as $1000.
Please make a gift to ANZGOG’s research and join in our quest
to find better treatments for women with a gynaecological cancer.
The Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group is at the forefront of ground breaking new research. In addition to conducting trials into finding better treatments and improving quality of life, we’re also looking at research into targeted therapies and immunology and translating this into every day clinical practice.
Together we can make a true impact. Please donate today. Thank you for your support.