POWH trial offers hope to ovarian cancer patients
Associate Professor Siobhan O’Sullivan’s life was turned upside down amid the global pandemic last year when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Sadly, her ovarian cancer is aggressive, and remission is very unlikely.
In the hope of giving future generations a better chance, she’s taking part in a ground-breaking trial using new medications with the Prince of Wales Hospital Oncologist Dr Yeh Chen Lee (pictured).
“It’s far too late for me but I may be able to spare the next generation,” the political scientist said. Associate Professor O'Sullivan has committed the rest of her life to raising awareness about ovarian cancer and wants detection to become easier for the next generation of girls and women.
More than 1,000 women die from ovarian cancer annually in Australia, yet it attracts less funding than any of the other cancers. More can be done, and research is the only way we can make incremental discoveries and treatment breakthroughs in ovarian cancer.
“It’s the one thing I want to do before I die,” she said. “I want to speak up about ovarian cancer. It’s important to raise funds and see far more research taking place. Ovarian cancer research is lagging diabolically behind other cancers.” Associate Professor O'Sullivan has put herself forward as an official ambassador for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.
Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer for good reason. “It’s one of the worst cancers you can get because there are no symptoms until it’s too late,” Dr Lee said.
“We desperately need research to improve patients’ chances of surviving,” she said. Yeh Chen is highly active in pursuing clinical trials in ovarian cancer investigating new drug approaches to improve cancer survival. She collaborates with Scientists at the University of New South Wales and involves in activities of the Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG).
Certainly, being part of the clinical trial at Prince of Wales Hospital has given Associate Professor O'Sullivan some consolation during the most vulnerable time of her life. The Oncology Clinical Trials unit runs a wide range of international and national studies with the goal to provide patients with access to new treatments and good quality care.
“If it wasn’t for this trial, I would have no other options. It’s given me a real sense of hope. It helps me appreciate every moment – being able to walk to the shops, feel the sun on my face. I just want to do what I can to be useful in the time I have left. If a young women dies from ovarian cancer in 30 years’ time that will be a tragic failing.”