$1M Federal funding will support more woman through psychological impact of ovarian cancer
Ovarian Cancer Australia says the $1M Federal Government funding announced today means more Australian women living with ovarian cancer can receive specialist support and psychosocial counselling via the Teal Support Program to help them throughout their diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
Announced at a Parliament House breakfast this morning to mark Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, the funding will ensure those women currently benefitting from the Teal Support Program can continue to do so. It will also provide hundreds more women over the coming year with their own dedicated nurse and expert advice that is accessible, timely and tailored to the individual.
This telehealth outreach program is the embodiment of Ovarian Cancer Australia’s mission to ensure no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone. It was launched in February 2019 with $1.6M funding announced by the Prime Minister and the Federal Health Minister to support 400 women around Australia.
“To put it in perspective, there are 1,500 women each year who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Three women die each and every day from this ghastly disease,” explains Jane Hill, Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO.
Treatment for ovarian cancer requires major abdominal surgery, often leading to immediate menopause and loss of fertility, which can be devastating especially for younger patients. The overwhelming psychological impact of a prognosis leads to over 40% of women experiencing clinical depression or anxiety.
Ms Hill adds: “With many women building resistance over time to chemotherapy, treatment becomes life-extending, with a palliative focus, rather than life-saving. Ovarian cancer needs attention to increase the appalling survival rate - only 46% of those women diagnosed will survive longer than five years.”
“Access to expert clinical support is difficult with cancers that are rarer, and those in rural and remote areas are even more disadvantaged. Around half of the women currently supported by our Teal Support Program live outside the major cities, and we’ve seen first-hand how much a difference this makes to their mental health, as well as their physical health journey.”
One beneficiary of the Teal Support Program is Miriam White, a 38 year old who has been supported by nurse Nerida Morton.
"Having regular contact with an ovarian cancer nurse through the Teal Support Program throughout my treatment has been invaluable,” Miriam explains. “Just knowing there's someone there I can talk to, talking through choices and concerns and providing guidance when needed, has meant so much during this difficult and often overwhelming time."
Caitlin Delaney is another woman who has benefited from the support of Ovarian Cancer Australia following her diagnosis four years ago at the age of 39.
Mother to two young children, Caitlin explains: “The mental torture of this disease is often worse than the physical torture. There is so much about this disease that’s lonely. Even the basic step of establishing a diagnosis feels like navigating a wilderness. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like without Ovarian Cancer Australia at the other end of the phone or having their support groups for women like me.”
Caitlin adds, “As an IVF scientist, I have the good fortune of being scientifically literate and I’ve been able to explore treatments myself. But what about those who aren’t as comfortable in the world of health science as I am? What about the many women who live in regional areas, or don’t speak English fluently, or don’t have family support. I am so frightened for those women. They need help. We all need help.”
“I have seen glimmers of hope since being diagnosed, from more drugs on the PBS to more funding for research and for the wonderful Teal Support Program. In the last year, our country come together to achieve impossible things, and it gave me that ever elusive hope, because it told me that we can change the story. We can change the story of ovarian cancer too, and this additional funding for the Teal Support Program is a fantastic step in the right direction,” Caitlin concludes.
Australians can show their support for Australians impacted by the disease this Teal Ribbon Giving Day on 24 February, and any donation will be tripled by Ovarian Cancer Australia, thanks to its generous major supporters.
To find out more information or to donate, head to ovariancancer.net.au.
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