Dialog Box

The science of listening: How ovarian cancer patients and survivors are changing our research

Most of us know someone who is living or has lived with cancer. You might have tried to imagine what it’s like to step into that person’s shoes. The truth is, what it's really like to live with cancer is different for everyone; there is no “average” or “typical” way in which people experience cancer. 
Kel Pittman’s experience is one of these unique stories.

Kel's story

Kel was 43 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2014, and unfortunately suffered a relapse in September 2017. In between rounds of chemotherapy, she is still full of hope in a situation that would seem bleak to most people. Why? She knows that people around the world are working towards a common goal — to stop this devastating disease in its tracks.

Some of these amazing people are our ovarian cancer researchers. Their top priority is understanding everything they can about the disease to ensure high research quality and relevance to those most affected.

Relevance comes from the unique experiences and valuable insights of those affected by ovarian cancer.  

That’s why we believe that women like Kel Pittman must have a voice in this fight. 

A voice of hope...

“I don’t want my daughter to fear this. A test for ovarian cancer isn’t going to save my life, but it might just save hers or one of her friends."

Kel’s focus is now on managing the disease for life, and supporting the research that will ensure her daughter, Mollie, won’t face the same threats in her adult life.

One of the vital ways she is supporting our research is through her involvement in our Consumer Representative Panel (CRP). The CRP brings together those affected by ovarian cancer to inform and directly impact how our research is prioritised, designed, conducted and translated. 

Alongside other ovarian cancer patients and survivors, Kel meets with the OCRF Committee every year to advise on which research applications will be funded by OCRF (receive a grant), as well as advise on ways to increase the public profile of ovarian cancer.

Read more about our CRP members

Kel’s feedback has influenced the way our researchers develop their research projects, with more engagement and consideration of women affected by ovarian cancer. The CRP advised that research projects will need to utilise language which is more considerate of these women, and ultimately easier for the community to understand.

...towards a brighter future

At OCRF, our vision is to ensure a future where no women's lives are threatened from ovarian cancer. Through our CRP, we want to empower women like Kel who are affected to highlight where they see the greatest need, so that our research always has their outcomes in mind.

The Consumer Representative Panel is a legacy of the late Helen Powell — a crucial founding member. Her recent passing is a heartbreaking reminder of why this life-saving research is so important for Kel’s daughter and generations to come.

Give in memory of Helen Powell

27 March 2020
Category: Blog