A Strong Voice Taking Action for People Affected by Ovarian Cancer in Australia [Interview][Transcript]

Jane_Hill_Ovarian_Cancer_AustraliaGuest: Jane Hill
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Jane joined OCA in May 2015. She has over 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector across health, education, telecommunications and finance. Until recently, Jane was Chief Executive Officer at Stride Foundation, an organisation dedicated to improving the physical, mental and social wellbeing of young people and their communities. In Jane’s earlier career she was the CEO of the Fight Cancer Foundation, a registered charity dedicated to saving lives of patients with leukaemia and other blood disorders. Jane’s experience also includes three years at KPMG within the Board Advisory Services Division. Jane has a BA, LLB, MBA and a Grad. Dip. in Marketing and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is also a Board member of the Freemason’s Foundation Victoria.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, know how you can show support and help spread awareness about ovarian cancer as we listen to Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Jane Hill. The group is an independent national organisation that takes action for people affected by ovarian cancer in Australia. They aim to ensure that women with ovarian cancer have a strong voice and they have access to best practice diagnosis, treatment, information and support. They also aim for vibrant and growing national ovarian cancer research effort in Australia to inform practice and translate into improved quality of life and survival for women. They hold community fundraiser events and also offer teal ribbons for purchase to those who want to help spread awareness of the disease and show support of those affected by it.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. My guest today is Jane Hill. Jane is the CEO of Ovarian Cancer Australia, and joins us today to talk about the activities and work of Ovarian Cancer Australia. Jane welcome to Health Professional radio.

Jane Hill: Thanks Wayne.

W: Now Jane tell us about Ovarian Cancer Australia and what is it that you do.

J: Well Ovarian Cancer Australia, we’re an independent national organization, and we take action for women affected by ovarian cancer. And unfortunately survival rates for ovarian cancer is 43% so we have a bold vision to increase survival rates by 25% by the year 2025.

W: A very admirable vision.

J: Yes, well we’re a very consumer focused organization and what we like to deliver is what women with ovarian cancer want.

W: Ovarian cancer is one of those very confronting diagnoses I guess for women, is it a common disease?

J: Well as I’ve said we’ve got a 43% survival rate, but it isn’t known as a high incidence cancer like breast cancer.

W: Right.

J: So it’s not as prevalent. Every year 1,400 women in Australia are diagnosed.

W: And I guest statistic aside, if you’re one of those 1,400 women it’s still a very important issue for you. It’s the I guess for many people a center of their lives once they’ve got that dreadful news.

J: Exactly, I mean 1,400 women in Australia is still a lot of women. So we have our purpose to ensure that women with ovarian cancer have a strong voice and that all Australians know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. And we’re also very keen to see that women with ovarian cancer have access to best practice, diagnosis and treatment and information support. But also what’s important is that we have a vibrant research area or effort in Australia that informs best practice and translate into improved quality of life and survival rate for women.

W: And that research work that you’re doing, I assume that’s in conjunction with the universities and hospitals, are you unique in doing that in Australia or are there any other groups involved?

J: Well there are lots of groups that Ovarian Cancer Australia doesn’t undertake but work itself, we actually enable other organizations. We raised funds for research and then we direct it to high impact research efforts around the country. And there are a lot of very good research being done which is recognized internationally.

W: Jane as a result of having a chat with us today, is there a message you’d like to hear clinicians? Because as I mentioned before about 95% of our audience are clinicians of one kind or another, is there a message that you’d like them to take away?

J: Well a lot of people think that ovarian cancer is a “silent killer” but we all understand now that women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, they report usually four types of symptoms. And what I’d like to think, I’d like to remind clinicians of those symptoms and they are abdominal or pelvic pain, increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating, needing to urinate often or urgently or feeling full after eating a small amount. So those are the four signs of ovarian cancer, I know that they are general and perhaps non-specific but just to remind clinicians and other health professionals that if you find women presenting with persistent symptoms, not to discount ovarian cancer as a cause.

W: Yes, they are quite non-specific in general in nature. And I can imagine that it would be easy as a clinician not to give them enough weight.

J: Well this is what the women do report with the diagnosis of ovarian cancer that it’s often misdiagnosed.

W: That’s unfortunate. Now Jane I notice there’s been some information on your website, that you also have a resilience kit available for women who are newly diagnosed.

J: Yes, it is like a one-stop resource for women newly diagnosed. And it’s a fantastic resource, it’s available from Ovarian Cancer Australia and I’ll give the website address later on. But you can get it free of charge. We can post it out to women or health professionals and it has a number of chapters in this kit which deal with things like chemotherapy, nutrition, developing healthy lifestyle after surgery, all matter of things relevant to women that have been newly diagnosed.

W: Jane a resource like that is going to be invaluable I guess for women who are newly diagnosed because there is always that difficulty of not being able to access enough information, the right information to back-up the diagnosis and give you some sense of the how the future is going to play out.

J: That’s right. And in addition to that, we also have our support groups so they’re available in Melbourne, Sydney, and Western Australia in Perth – they’re face to face support group. And we also have our tele-support groups which are available to women all over Australia if they need to talk to other people that are going through a similar experience. And we also have our 1300 telephone line and that telephone number is available on our website for anybody that want’s to ring in if they’ve got any questions.

W: It does sound Jane like a very worthwhile suite of services and I’m pleased with it. I’m able to have a chat today to put a little bit of information out there about what you’re doing. My favorite question in every interview is about misconceptions, and of course there are misconceptions all over the place. What are the misconceptions in your work that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?

J: Well our research shows that many women think that ovarian cancer can be detected by a “pap smear” but this isn’t the case. So there’s no early detection screening program for ovarian cancer. So therefore that’s why we want to get across the important message about knowing the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer because a pap smear isn’t gonna do it.

W: Oh I can see that is a misconception that is important for both the people who work in the clinical field, but also for people who have got some of those symptoms. Don’t really on a pap smear, you need to have a serious conversation with your doctor and get some further diagnosis done.

J: Yes. And Wayne can I also mention that Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is coming up. It’s in February next year, and during that time we have our major fund raising campaign that sell afternoon teal. So it’s obviously afternoon tea with an “L” on it, the “teal” is the international color for ovarian cancer. So we’ll be launching the campaign in November and calling on everybody to host a tea party to raise funds for our work.

W: Well I’m pleased we can get that message out there too because first of all a good afternoon tea is always worth going to and secondly it’s certainly a worthwhile and admirable cause.

J: Yes.

W: Jane it’s been a pleasure having you with us. For people who want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

J: It’s best to contact us through our website, that’s ovariancancer.net.au

W: Okay now I’m always getting into trouble for this when not giving people enough warning to get their pencils ready. So pencils ready people ovariancancer.net.au and the alternative is if you’ve missed my conversation with Jane Hill, it’s available on our website. There’s a transcript and an audio archive on YouTube and SoundCloud and our website is www.hpr.fm. Jane Hill CEO of Ovarian Cancer Australia, thank you very much for your time today.

J: Thank you Wayne.

W: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar.

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