Women like Chani demand and deserve progress for a longer and better quality life.
Will you join us in taking bigger steps forward in awareness, research and the experience of living with ovarian cancer by donating today?
1 in 79 Australian women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and less than half will survive 5 years. Despite these harrowing figures, the awareness, the funding and the support is appallingly neglected. Women and their families feel forgotten, unimportant and increasingly frustrated by the lack of knowledge and advancements of this disease. This just isn't good enough.
That's why it's so important to have our community behind us, helping to pave the way for ovarian cancer support and advocacy in Australia.
We can't let ovarian cancer continue to be left behind.
To make a greater difference we need more attention and support.
Donate today and you can make an incredible difference to the life of someone facing Australia's deadliest female cancer.
You can help to improve support services and lead change via advocacy.
Yes, I want to make a difference
Chani is a vibrant young woman, with two young boys, who loves family time, experimenting in the kitchen and being with friends. She’s had some health challenges before, living with endometriosis, but her life took an unexpected turn one day in 2019, when she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer at just 31 years old.
After having surgery for endometriosis, Chani thought her pain was over. She thought life was going to go back to normal. So, she was shattered when she was told they found cancer.
“I didn’t know if I was going to live or die,” says Chani.
“I came home and I sat in my bedroom doing exactly what they told me not to do, and googled survival rates. That’s when I stumbled upon Ovarian Cancer Australia. I wasn’t in a good place, so I called the Helpline. ”
What followed Chani’s diagnosis was a full hysterectomy and peritonectomy, which involved removing her reproductive organs as well as the lining of her abdominal cavity. It was described to Chani as “the mother of all surgeries” and has a recovery time of more than three months.
Post-surgery, Chani couldn’t even lift a water bottle.
“At 31 I was thrown into this place where my husband was having to help me clean myself and clean around my catheter – he was amazing… I’d always been the carer, and now I had to have people taking care of me. It was difficult.”
Chani says menopause hit her like a ton of bricks.
“I thought, yeh hot flushes, I can deal with that. But I didn’t expect waves of anxiety and the panic attacks and everything that came with the sudden menopause… They had to medicate me a couple of times.”
When Chani phoned Ovarian Cancer Australia on the day of her diagnosis, we were able to provide her with a dedicated ovarian cancer nurse, Di. Thanks to the generosity of the community who keeps our support services running, Di has been able to be there for Chani when she’s needed specialised advice.
“When I went to really dark places, if I hadn't been able to call Di and have that conversation, I think I would have fallen into a complete pit of despair,” says Chani.
Chani has a wonderful network around her, but speaking with a dedicated professional, who has an understanding of her experience, lifted some of the burden she felt.
“I did go through a place where I avoided events with friends, because I didn't want to be the sad sack. I'd get sad because they were talking about all these amazing things that they had planned, and my life was in a very different place. I was relating more to women in their 60s than I was with my friends who were in their 30s,” says Chani.
Sadly, we know that about 70% of people diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer will experience a recurrence, which means that ovarian cancer is often a life-long disease. I’ve spoken with women who say that even a small niggle can make them fear the cancer has returned.
“I do think about it, because you hear a lot of women don't survive past five years, so when it comes to long term things ... I think: "Will I even be here?",” says Chani.
Women with ovarian cancer deserve more awareness, funding and support.
Despite what she’s been through and continues to live with, Chani describes herself as lucky in many ways:
- Lucky to have regular check-ups due to living with endometriosis
- Lucky to have had an amazing surgical team who identified the cancer among the endometriosis
- Lucky to have already had her two beautiful children so she didn’t have to choose between bearing children and radical surgery
- Lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends, family and organisations.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every woman. Ovarian cancer often goes unnoticed or misdiagnosed. Sadly, most diagnoses of ovarian cancer are at an advanced stage.
But women shouldn’t have to rely on luck to survive ovarian cancer.
Donate now to support women like Chani