Silent Crisis In Women's Health In New Zealand
There is currently a crisis in women's health in Aotearoa.
Every 48 hours a woman dies of ovarian cancer. That's more women, than our road toll. And yet the government spends $1 billion dollars a year trying to reduce the road toll, and most years nothing on awareness and research to reduce the death toll of our least survivable women's cancer.
Jane Ludemann, the founder of Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, and Tash Crosby of Talk Peach Gynaecological Foundation - want to know why. Both these women have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Next week On Tuesday the 16th March @ 1.00pm they are presenting a petition with over 7000 signatures to parliament, calling for improvements in outcomes for ovarian cancer. Government steps will be covered in 180 white crosses to represent those lives lost this past year, a sobering sight for a “crisis in women's health”- Tash Crosby
A recent survey by Cure Our Ovarian Cancer found that 90% of women can not name a single symptom of ovarian cancer before their diagnosis and most experience significant difficulties in accessing the blood test and ultrasound required to find their cancer. "It's unbelievable that in this day and age women are still being told that the symptoms are 'in their head' or that they 'just need to lose weight' or 'eat more All Bran' - when in actual fact they have advanced cancer." - Jane @ Cure Our Ovarian Cancer
Unlike Australia, New Zealand doesn't have any national guidelines to diagnose ovarian cancer. That means the approach from doctors can vary significantly. "One in five women receive a diagnosis within a month of seeing their doctor, so we know some doctors are doing an incredible job, but at the other end of the spectrum we also know that one in four women take a year or longer to be diagnosed, and those delays often cost them their life." - Tash @ Talk Peach.
Once diagnosed women face survival rates 5% worse than Australians who have access to more funded treatments and clinical trials. The survival rates for ovarian cancer are less than half that of breast and prostate cancer. A fact that is unlikely to improve unless we start funding research - say (Jane and Tash).
Kelly is a 38 year old working mother of two. She spent two years trying to get help from her GP because she had a constant feeling of fullness. Despite not being able to eat much she wasn't losing weight, her stomach was getting larger, she was tired and in pain. Her doctor suggested she had a possible personality disorder. In April 2020 her symptoms took her to the emergency department where a scan showed a 3 litre tumour. She was diagnosed with a rare ovarian cancer called mucinous adenocarcinoma.
The stress of her difficult diagnosis led to a mental breakdown "I felt I was damaged goods – a 39 year old who couldn’t have more children, who had cancer and was still fatigued and I felt like I took ages to recover. I mapped out my suicide, dying was all I ever thought about... – no one quite gets the stress of a cancer diagnosis and its life-long effects."
"We can not understand how this important area of women's health has been ignored for so long. The current situation is unconscionable. We urge the government to take urgent action to reduce unnecessary deaths from ovarian cancer." (Tash @ Talk Peach) )
Quick ovarian cancer facts:
Every 48 hours one New Zealander dies from ovarian cancer. Maori and Pasifika women experience higher incidence and mortality of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of female cancer death and the least survivable women’s cancer - survival rates are less than half that of breast and prostate cancer
Symptoms can include bloating, eating less and feeling fuller, abdominal/pelvic/back pain, needing to pee more or urgently, change in bowel habits, fatigue, indigestion, painful sex, unexplained weight change, menstrual iregularities
Many women mistakenly believe a cervical smear tests for ovarian cancer
More women die of ovarian cancer than the road toll - yet the government funds $1 billion a year to reduce the road toll and nothing to reduce deaths from ovarian cancer, a travesty in the protection of our countries wahine.
On Tuesday 16th of March tash Crosby and Jane Ludemann will present their petition to Government to action change, “Women's day is everyday NOT just once a year”- Tash Crosby
The charities involved in the delivery of this petition
‘Cure Our Ovarian Cancer’: cureourovariancancer.org/nz and ‘Talk Peach Gynaecological Cancer Foundation’ talkpeach.org.nz
The website created that clearly states our aims- This umbrella website has been put together for both of our charities to join for action at a government level https://www.ovariancancer.co.nz/ (here you will find more info on the petition and sobering personal stories)
Instagram accounts @talk_peach @cureourovariancancer
Talk Peach Ovarian Cancer Video Campaign Featuring Survivors and Actress Jodie Rimmer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOoIkpv-L5M