Our Consumer Representative Panel (CRP) brings together those affected by ovarian cancer to offer advice and recommendations from a consumer perspective to the Committee of Management and the OCRF Team. Our CRP members offer unique and valuable insights into how research is designed, conducted and translated and help to ensure high research quality and relevance to those most affected by the disease. The CRP also supports the translation of our research impact to the broader community.
Dr Francine Marques
Medical Researcher, Chemo and Beauty Blogger, Ovarian Cancer Survivor
Dr Marques is a Melbourne medical researcher who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, at the age of just 31. “I used to exercise regularly and I did not smoke, neither was I overweight. I didn’t know I had some of the symptoms, including pelvic pain and frequent urination. Other common symptoms include abdominal bloating, loss of appetite or feeling full quickly, change in bowel habits, menstrual irregularities and lack of energy. To my surprise, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer’’. Dr Marques has spoken at length about her own experience hoping to help other women have the best chance of staying healthy.
Ms Kel Pittman
OCRF Ambassador, Ovarian Cancer Patient
Kel was 43 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2014. After undergoing immediate treatment and being declared in remission, Kel unfortunately suffered a relapse in September 2017. She completed her follow-up chemotherapy in August of last year and will commence her next round of treatment later this year. Her focus is now on managing the disease for life, and supporting the research that will ensure her daughter won’t face the same threats in her adult life.
Read her story
Daniella splits her time between motherhood, Monash University in the Blood Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory as a research scientist and engaging in community awareness about Breast and Ovarian Cancers. Daniella lost her mother to ovarian cancer at the very young age of 59. Unfortunately, at the time of her mother’s diagnosis, Daniella found out that her family carries a BRCA1 mutation. This dramatically increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer to 80% and ovarian cancer to 40%. Daniella found out at 28 years of age that she too carries this gene mutation. Her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at a very late stage as she was predominantly asymptomatic before eventually being diagnosed her with stage 4 ovarian cancer. During the following 12 months it spread to her mother’s brain and liver. After witnessing her mother’s experience Daniella was anxious about her own health, realising that not only does she have an increased risk of ovarian cancer but there is no early detection for this disease. Considering the lack of early detection, she made the drastic decision to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes at the young age of 39. The ongoing early menopause is a daily challenge, yet far better than dealing with a cancer that is known for taking the lives of young women far too early. She encourages women to be pro-active about their health, challenge their medical team if they are concerned with their results and trust their instinct when it comes to their body.
Lindy Spicer was 25 years old when she felt a lump on the left side of her pelvis. Apart from a slight unwell feeling it was the only symptom of what was to be a shock diagnosis of ovarian cancer. That was in 1989. Lindy beat it and she has since gone on to raise approximately $30,000 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. Her treatment involved four chemo sessions as well as surgery. “Because I was only 25 we wanted to save as much as possible during surgery so that I could, in time, have children, which I did.” By the end of 1989 she was given the all-clear. Lindy underwent a hysterectomy after a benign tumour was found on her right ovary. Lymphedema, a condition causing significant and uncomfortable swelling on her leg (due to the removal of lymph glands during surgery) has troubled her over the years but is being managed with medical treatment. Lindy has been involved with the OCRF for over a decade.
Jordan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2019 at 27 years old. She was quickly treated with surgery and chemotherapy and is currently in remission. As an ovarian cancer patient, Jordan is looking forward to being able to use her personal experience to advocate on behalf of the OCRF, raising awareness of the disease, and the fact that there are critical funding shortages for research into early detection tests and treatments.
OCRF Ambassador, Ovarian Cancer Survivor
Vali was 16 when she first started experiencing strange and vague symptoms; it wasn't until surgery for endometriosis at 19 that Vali was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during a routine operation for endometriosis. Vali then had a recurrence at 24 which rendered her infertile after surgery and chemotherapy. Due to amazing advancements in treatment Vali was able to become a mother to twin girls in 2013, Vali has now been dealing with ovarian cancer for over half her life and is passionate about research and preventing her friends, family and most importantly her daughters from having to live through the same struggle she has faced.