This month marks 10 years since Target Ovarian Cancer was founded. Annwen Jones, who has been our Chief Executive since the start, discusses the moments she is most proud of.
Our founder Joanna Barker and I decided to set up Target Ovarian Cancer 10 years ago after her mother and sister died from ovarian cancer within six weeks of each other. We identified the gaps in support for women with ovarian cancer and the urgent need to involve women in decisions about their care, with our overall goal to transform survival.
10 years later, one of the things that I feel most proud of is that we created a community of women with ovarian cancer, who have felt less isolated as a result, and have pushed for change at every level. I have worked alongside women who, knocked sideways by their diagnosis, have gone on to present at parliament, speak at policy committee meetings, campaign with ministers and speak on TV, on the radio and in the papers about their stories and the need for change. I’ve watched the change within these women, confident in knowing they’re achieving change for other women like them. Our community was fragmented, isolated, and is now mobilised and growing into a global force, influencing decision-makers and connecting with other communities across the world.
And the second thing, and this is crucial, is that we have successfully challenged the vicious circle of nihilism that surrounded ovarian cancer, where ovarian cancer was considered ‘too difficult’. We’ve worked tirelessly to tackle the myths surrounding ovarian cancer. Myths such as ovarian cancer being a disease that doesn’t have symptoms; it can’t be picked up earlier; there’s nothing that can be done. We now have clear clinical guidelines setting out symptoms and the referral process. We are seeing fewer women diagnosed in A&E, where survival rates are poorest, and at the same time we have seen a steady increase in the number of women surviving this disease for five years or more. Together, we have shown that this is mission possible!
Looking back on the last 10 years, I am so proud of just how much we have achieved. We have now trained over 45 per cent of the UK’s GPs to spot ovarian cancer. We have set up the first UK-wide ovarian cancer research programme and funded over £1m of research with projects translated into clinical practice. We have created a full-service, one-stop shop for women with ovarian cancer – and their families – seeking support and information about the disease wherever they live in the UK. This is extraordinary progress.
I am enormously grateful to Joanna, to our current Chair, Emma Kane, and the trustees for providing leadership, the incredible staff team who go way beyond the call of duty day after day, and every single person who has supported the charity and our mission.
Above all, I am grateful to every woman who has come forward, in spite of ill health, to campaign, to fundraise, to raise awareness and to provide support to other women. We have lost so many incredible women who have made a lasting impact on this disease, and who have made a lasting impact on me personally.
Enough is enough. It really is time to TAKE OVAR. We have achieved so much, but there is so much more to do. This organisation and the people in it will not stop until every woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer has the prospect of normal life expectancy with a good quality of life.
Thank you for being part of us.
- Join us and help to fund Target Ovarian Cancer’s work
- It’s time to TAKE OVAR – get involved in our campaign
- Read stories about women with ovarian cancer