2022 was our biggest year yet. We achieved some significant milestones across awareness, support, advocacy, and research – all towards our goal of saving lives. None of the below would have been possible without the generous support of our donors and fundraisers who provide the resources for our important work.
Educating the public and health professionals on the symptoms of ovarian cancer to encourage earlier diagnosis
- Raising awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms through public and private events, national billboard campaigns (generously donated by Go Media and Topham Guerin), news articles and educational resources for health professionals.
- Educational articles to improve ovarian cancer diagnosis published in two national GP publications and one primary care nursing publication, in addition to our Good Diagnosis Award in February 2021 celebrating examples of health professionals who acted promptly to diagnose women.
Supporting people with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer throughout their diagnosis
- Supporting women through our new monthly counsellor facilitated ovarian cancer support groups. Since its launch in September over 30 wāhine with ovarian cancer have signed up to participate and we expect this to continue to grow in 2023.
- Launched a holiday home grants scheme in partnership with timeout Charity, that gives women with life-limiting ovarian cancer travel assistance and a gifted holiday stay to create lasting memories with friends and family.
- Continued to add to our online resources to help women with ovarian cancer make informed decisions about their health.
Advocating for evidence-based initiatives to improve diagnosis, treatment and survival of ovarian cancer
- We presented our ‘National Ovarian Cancer Report – Steps to Save Lives’ to the Health Select Committee at parliament. At over 145 pages it is the most comprehensive report detailing the state of ovarian cancer in NZ, ever published.
- We will be making an oral submission to parliament next year and are continuing discussions with Te Aho O Te Kahu Cancer Control Agency and The Ministry of Health in regards to the issues raised around diagnosis, treatment and research.
- Special thanks to all of the individuals, clinicians and organisations who contributed to the report and to all our volunteers who are visiting their local MPs to hand deliver copies and share their experiences.
- Read the full National Ovarian Cancer Report
- We participated in a global panel discussion on rare ovarian cancers hosted by the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition, and spoke at the Society of Gynaecological Oncology Annual Conference – advocating for better support and research for rare ovarian cancers. Over 100 New Zealanders are diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer every year yet there is very little known about them.
- Our submission to Pharmac lead to a reconsideration of their decision to formally decline an application for Avastin for recurrent ovarian cancer. This was really positive news because their were 84 other treatments for diseases declined in this process. Pharmac’s clinical committee has since recommended that it be funded with medium priority.
- Our official information act requests showed significant variation of the criteria used to assess ultrasound eligibility with identical cases prioritised for two weeks, to having the referral declined outright. We have brought this discrepancy to the attention of Te Aho o Te Kahu and continue to advocate for national consensus guidelines for the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
Supporting research to break the 50% survival ceiling and find a cure
- We almost doubled the ovarian cancer research we are funding in 2022 compared to 2021 – with $60,000 awarded across three projects – making us the largest charitable funder of ovarian cancer research in New Zealand this year.
- Our 2022 grantees were:
- Dr Magdalena Ratajska of the University of Otago: Targeted molecular profiling of high-grade serous/endometrioid ovarian cancer in New Zealand patients
- Dr Kenny Chitcholtan of the University of Otago: Combination of re-purposed iron-chelating and anti-malarial drugs to overcome autophagy cell survival in serous ovarian cancer
- Dr Mak Salwar of the University of Otago: Investigation of dual targeting in low-grade serous ovarian cancer
- Thank you to Graci (the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Research Foundation) for their support in administering our grants process.
- We also sponsored a networking event for gynaecological oncology medical professionals and researchers to connect and share ideas at the second annual Gynaecological Cancer League Research Summit in Auckland – in addition to trustees Jane Ludemann and Dr Alicia Didsbury speaking at the conference.
To our supporters for making this work possible. We look forward to continuing our fight for women’s lives in 2023.
You can read more about our work in our 2022 Annual Report which details our activities from April 2021-March 2022.
OCFNZ started as Cure Our Ovarian Cancer in 2018, with a focus on low-grade serous ovarian cancer. In 2020, we expanded our focus to include all ovarian cancer and, in 2024, we changed our name to the Ovarian Cancer Foundation New Zealand.