When Madelyn Duckmanton’s daughter, Letitia Linke, passed away from ovarian cancer on the 1st of August 2018, she lost not only a child but a close friend, a link to her grandchildren, and an irreplaceable bond.
No parent is prepared for a child's death, at any age. Yet with time, most parents find a way forward and begin to experience happiness and meaning in life once again.
For Madelyn, an important step in dealing with the pain of such devastating loss was to carry on her daughter’s legacy.
In 2014, Letitia Linke was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer during surgery to treat what were thought to be endometriomas and endometriosis. Often called a “silent killer”, it’s easy to overlook the early symptoms of ovarian cancer because they’re similar to other common illnesses or they tend to come and go. Therefore, ovarian cancer is frequently misdiagnosed or not reported.
After her diagnosis and throughout her illness, Letitia worked tirelessly to increase awareness of ovarian cancer, the signs and symptoms, and its effects on womens of all ages.
“It made her feel good to think she might just be helping someone else. She was particularly passionate about finding an early detection test so that ovarian cancer can be discovered at a much earlier stage before it is too late,” says Madelyn.
She became a passionate ambassador for the OCRF, all the while undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other medical treatments.
“The OCRF supports research into finding an early detection test, so this made the role as an Ambassador for the OCRF a good fit. With two parents who have spent their working life in pathology, Letitia understood what screening tests can do to change the outcome of disease.”
Letitia’s determined spirit touched so many through her involvement with the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, so many supporters with whom she shared her story, and so many women with ovarian cancer who followed her journey.
She inspired many to work harder, to raise more, to fund more research. All of us who knew her directly or through the generous sharing of her story were touched by her warmth, care, passion and positivity.
Never forgotten and always in our hearts
For Madelyn, the memories of joyful moments she spent with her daughter and the love they shared will live on and always be part of her.
In her daughter’s memory, Madelyn continues to raise funds for the OCRF’s groundbreaking research. Through her tireless efforts, she co-founded the Letitia Linke Memorial Fund and has helped to generate over $30,000 in donations to the fund. She has also devoted her time to running the Adelaide Silver Style fundraiser event, with over $64,000 raised from the 2018 and 2019 events.
“I believe my daughter would absolutely expect me to continue what she had started. In her memory and that of her Aunty Rose, my sister in law who also died of this disease in October 2016. The overriding thing was always that both were diagnosed at a very late stage.”
As someone who has spent her career in medical pathology, Madelyn is acutely aware of what early detection can mean to the final outcome for cancer patients. However it goes back a bit further than that, as Madelyn’s mother was diagnosed at a very early stage with cervical cancer when Madeyn was 16.
“[My mother] was very lucky to have a pap smear at the very first clinic to offer this in Adelaide, the Royal Adelaide hospital. The result was early detection, treatment and cure. She is now approaching 86 years of age. Like so many tests that are currently undertaken to screen for particular diseases, an early detection test for ovarian cancer would completely change the outcome for most women, as it has done for cervical cancer and in my lifetime.”
Letitia's legacy continues to live on through the work she and Madelyn (with the support of the committee) have done on behalf of, and alongside, the OCRF. Letitia was an inspirational voice speaking up for the urgent need for life-saving research, and a true role model for Australian women and girls.
“An early detection test is critical if we are to change the outcome for women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. The OCRF is focused on this research and for that reason I will continue to advocate to raise funds for research to find an early detection test.”
Please support Letitia's legacy by helping raise funds for vital research to fund an early detection test for ovarian cancer. You too, can be a voice for women now and into the future, whose lives could be saved by this research.