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New Tribute Wall unveiled! celebrating the lives of extraordinary women

Ovarian cancer research read about the latest developments

*Remember the symptoms declared strongest performing ad

The 'C' Word! Jo Brand supports Ovarian Cancer Action to promote Mumsnet cancer campaign

www.ova rian .or funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


Contents N E W S


A ‘bag for life’ to help save lives


High profile support


New NHS White Paper

6 8

Welcome to Ovarian Cancer Action’s winter 2010 newsletter, once again packed with news on the progress we are making – thanks to our fundraisers and supporters.

– new Patrons offer support – response to Government proposals F E A T U R E S



– our new fundraising shopping bag

The ‘C’ Word

– we join forces with Mumsnet Reversing chemotherapy resistance

– Euan Stronach explains his research New Tribute Wall unveiled!

– supporters attend special events


Ovarian cancer research


My Story


*Remember the symptoms


Meet Chloe Johnson

– an update from Dr Hani Gabra – Dr Jo Sherrington – our award-winning campaign – our Trusts & Foundations Fundraiser F U N D R A I S I N G


Mince pies and mulled wine?


Fantastic fundraisers

– a festive twist on The Cupcake Break

Working in partnership with other organisations is vital in helping us drive forward our research and awareness raising programmes. In recent weeks we’ve been delighted to work with and three other leading women’s cancer charities on The ‘C’ Word campaign. This brilliant initiative has raised awareness of ovarian, breast and cervical cancer among Mumsnet’s two million monthly visitors. You can find out more on page 5. The work of our Research Centre scientists goes from strength to strength. On page 6 Dr Euan Stronach describes his team’s work – seeking to understand why many ovarian cancer tumours develop resistance to the best chemotherapy treatments – and how new knowledge will help develop new approaches that reverse this resistance. Our work would be impossible without the support of our donors and fundraisers, so it’s always especially pleasing to be able to welcome you to our Research Centre, to show you what your support has achieved. In October we were delighted to welcome supporters for the unveiling of the new Tribute Wall (see page 8). We will be arranging more visits to the Research Centre over the coming months, so please get in touch if you’d like to visit and learn more about the vital work happening there. I hope you enjoy reading this issue, as we report back on what your support is helping to make possible. Thank you for everything that you do.

– read about our amazing supporters

Contact us Ovarian Cancer Action Harvard House, The Waterfront, Elstree Road Elstree, Hertfordshire, WD6 3BS Tel: Fax: Email: Visit:

0300 456 4700 0300 456 4708

Peter Reynolds Chief Executive

Registered charity no. 1109743

Trustees Allyson Kaye (Chair) Daniel Harris John Harris CBE Martin Paisner CBE Emma Scott Lord Turnberg of Cheadle Disclaimer It should be noted that inclusion in the Ovarian Cancer Action newsletter does not imply endorsement of a participating organisation or its products. Newletter production Consultant: Sam Gibson Production Editor: Charlotte Williams Design: Photography: Dan Tsantilis


One of the aims of Ovarian Cancer Action is to raise awareness of the disease. We believe that by being more aware of frequent and persistent symptoms, women who have ovarian cancer will receive treatment sooner. By giving copies of this newsletter to your friends, your local library or doctor’s surgery you could let more people know about the work we do to fund research, raise awareness, and give a voice to women with ovarian cancer. Call us today on 0300 456 4700 or return the tear off slip if you’d like us to send you some extra copies of the newsletter to distribute. funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


Remember the symptoms – ad wins another award! in getting our crucial symptoms awareness message across to women. We would like to thank our ad agencies Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe Y&R and MPG, who donated their services for free and made the campaign happen.’

Ovarian Cancer Action’s *Remember the symptoms advertisement scooped another media award in July, being named the strongest performing newspaper advertisement in the first quarter of 2010 – beating many household names like Kit Kat and PG Tips! Peter Reynolds, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action, said: ‘This award is particularly satisfying because it’s based on our advertisement’s effectiveness

The award quickly made an impact because several media companies contacted us to offer space for our advertisement, and posters have appeared at sites across London throughout the summer. ‘Our campaign has been running for one year now and we’re really pleased with the progress we’ve made,’ says Peter. ‘Because of its success, and the recognition it has achieved, we’re now developing the campaign for new media and new audiences. So watch this space!’

A 'bag for life' to help save lives Our *Remember the Symptoms campaign is all about saving lives, because by raising awareness of the common symptoms of ovarian cancer we aim to improve earlier detection and diagnosis of the disease. So our new, reusable shopping bag is not just a ‘bag for life’ – it could help save lives too! The bag is made from 100% cotton, which is both

environmentally-friendly and lightweight. And as well as Ovarian Cancer Action’s logo, the attractive design incorporates a list of common ovarian cancer symptoms. Help us raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer by using our new bag when you go shopping. You can buy the shopper for just £5, including post and packing.




To read more about the first year of our *Remember the symptoms campaign turn to page 12.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference Ovarian Cancer Action continued its public affairs work when our Chief Executive, Peter Reynolds, spoke at a reception at the Conservative Party Conference in October. The reception – Turning Up The Volume On Women’s Health – was hosted by The Conservative Women’s Organisation. Their Chair, Pauline Lucas, was another speaker, as was Ovarian Cancer Action supporter Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes in Devon. All three spoke passionately about the success of Ovarian Cancer Action’s awareness work to date, and the importance of our *Remember the Symptoms campaign to ensure more women and healthcare professionals are aware of the common symptoms of ovarian cancer. At the conference Ovarian Cancer Action was also delighted to receive a number of new pledges of support for our campaign from members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit

O R D E R Y O U R B A G T O D AY !

To order a shopping bag just complete the form on the tear off slip at the back of this newsletter and return it to us with your cheque or credit card details. Alternatively, call us on 0300 456 4700, email or visit our website at donate/product.asp.



High profile support Dr Chris Steele

Dr Chris Steele, MBE, resident doctor on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme has kindly offered to become a Patron of Ovarian Cancer Action, and we have accepted with gratitude. He made his offer having met Loretta Oliver, one of our Ovarian Cancer Voices, who appeared on ‘This Morning’ with her husband, Paul, in May, to talk about their experience of ovarian cancer and how it has affected their family.

Bringing the world’s top ovarian cancer minds together Over the past 20 years Ovarian Cancer Action, and its predecessor organisation the Helene Harris Memorial Trust (HHMT), has organised the highly influential Helene Harris Memorial Trust International Forum on Ovarian Cancer. These invitation-only meetings are attended by 50 of the world’s leading ovarian cancer scientists and clinicians, and provide a unique forum for discussion and debate on the latest thinking and new directions in ovarian cancer research. The 12th International Forum will take place in Miami, Florida in January 2011.

A prestigious Programme Committee (chaired by Professor Fran Balkwill, Centre Lead at the Institute of Cancer, Barts and The London School of Medicine in London), has identified those areas of cancer research most likely to make a difference to the early detection, treatment and prevention of ovarian cancer in coming years. Ovarian Cancer Action’s Chair, Allyson Kaye, comments: ‘Over the past 20 years these Forums have built an unparalleled reputation as the key expert think tank on new directions in ovarian cancer research, and the next event is shaping up to be tremendously exciting.’

Professor Fran Balkwill

Presenting our work in Parliament

Shelley Conn

In addition, the actress Shelley Conn has agreed to support our *Remember the Symptoms campaign going forward. Shelley plays Jessica in the BBC series ‘Mistresses’ and in the last series her character was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ahead of filming the episodes featuring this storyline, Shelley contacted us for information on the disease and its symptoms. She also asked if we could put her in touch with one of our Ovarian Cancer Voices so she could get a greater understanding of how an ovarian cancer diagnosis would affect a woman in her thirties. We are very grateful to Daniella Kelman who agreed to speak to Shelley about this.


In July, Ovarian Cancer Action was selected as one of a small number of charities invited to present our work at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research Summer Reception, which took place at the House of Commons. At the reception, Dr Euan Stronach from the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, presented his work to Parliamentarians on reversing chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer Action Chief Executive, Peter Reynolds, says: ‘We were delighted that, once again, Ovarian Cancer Action was selected to present our work at this well-attended event. ‘It is very important to keep Ministers and MPs up to date with new research developments, and the real progress we are making at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre.’

Peter Reynolds and Dr Euan Stronach at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research Summer Reception


Find out more about Dr Euan Stronach’s current research into platinum resistance on pages 6-7 of this newsletter.

funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


The 'C' Word Throughout October, Ovarian Cancer Action was delighted to join forces with Mumsnet, as part of The 'C' Word campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of three female cancers: ovarian, breast and cervical cancer. The campaign was a natural link-up for our charity after the success of our own online symptoms awareness campaign earlier this year. A great partnership!

Top 3 FAQs

Mumsnet is the UK’s liveliest parenting website. Independently funded, the site prides itself on being a community, not a lobby group. And with two million unique visitors clocking up 21 million page ‘hits’ every month, it is an incredibly powerful means of reaching women of all ages – which makes it a great partner for our awareness work.

What is the hereditary risk of ovarian cancer? Genetic risk may be increased if two first degree relatives (mother, sister or daughter) develop breast or ovarian cancer.

Working together Fronted by comedian Jo Brand, The 'C' Word campaign united for the first time, four leading cancer charities: Ovarian Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Care, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. Mumsnet launched the campaign at the end of September in the Mail on Sunday’s You magazine, in a feature on one of the co-founders of Mumsnet, Carrie Longton. During October the 'C' Word campaign focussed on each cancer type for one week, giving information on the Mumsnet website about symptoms and treatment, as well as the particular charity’s work.

Answering questions Visitors to the website were also encouraged to ask questions on the Mumsnet Talkboard. Ovarian Cancer Action’s Healthcare Projects Manager, Dr Sarah Blacklidge, supported by a panel of medical experts including Professor Hani Gabra and Dr Sarah Blagden from the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, responded to questions. The following week a selection of frequently asked questions and answers were posted on Mumsnet. (See the panel opposite for more details.)

Mumsnet co-founders, Carrie Longton and Justine Roberts with supporter, Jo Brand

Inform and empower The co-founder of Mumsnet, Carrie Longton, lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 50. ‘My mum died without meeting her grandchildren, and I've always wondered if things would have been different if I’d been better informed,’ she says. ‘I’m delighted we could work with these fantastic cancer charities to inform and empower women. I've already learnt there can be a genetic link between breast and ovarian cancer; and now know I must be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer too.’ Mumsnet campaigns co-ordinator Kate Williams lost her mother to ovarian cancer, after a typically late diagnosis: ‘It’s so easy to confuse the symptoms of ovarian cancer with other less serious ailments. I hope this campaign will help to inform women about what to look for, and encourage them to go quickly to their GPs if they’re the slightest bit worried.’

To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit

Campaigning continues The key focus for our online symptoms awareness campaign (www.everywomanshould is to encourage women to know the common symptoms of ovarian cancer and to share them with other women in their lives. Joining forces with Mumsnet as part of The 'C' Word campaign gave us the opportunity to reach millions of women, and traffic to Ovarian Cancer Action’s website increased by 50% during October. Peter Reynolds, Ovarian Cancer Action’s Chief Executive, says: ‘Because there’s currently no nationwide screening programme for ovarian cancer it’s really important that women know the possible symptoms of the disease. The ‘C’ Word campaign has made a fantastic contribution to help raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer amongst women.’

If you’re worried enough about your symptoms to visit your GP, how can you make sure ovarian cancer is an option that is investigated? Remember everything you want to say by listing your concerns before your appointment. Give your GP as much information as possible – when your symptoms first occurred, their frequency, whether they’ve worsened, etc. (Use our Symptoms Diary to help you communicate clearly with your GP.) Mention if there have been cases of ovarian or breast cancer in your close family. If you feel your concerns are not being taken seriously, ask for a second opinion. And if your symptoms persist, return to your GP. Does irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) make it harder to diagnose ovarian cancer? Ovarian cancer symptoms tend to be persistent, present on most days, and worsen as time goes on. IBS symptoms tend to reoccur and often are considered to be a lifelong condition. If you suffer from IBS, you know what triggers a flare up of your symptoms. If symptoms persist or worsen, speak to your GP.



Making chemotherapy more effective for ovarian cancer By Euan Stronach PhD, Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, Imperial College London Ovarian cancer usually responds well to chemotherapy initially, but often becomes resistant to it over time. So why does the chemotherapy stop working? It's the same patient, the same chemotherapy, the same disease, isn't it? But that’s the problem: the disease is not the same. It all comes back to the theory of evolution.

Euan Stronach, PhD at the Research Centre with David Lammy MP

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution describes how a population living in a particular environment will adapt to it over time. If the environment changes those best suited to the new surroundings will become the successful ones, even if they struggled more in the old setting. And so it is with the cancerous cells of a tumour. They are not all the same. Ovarian cancer cells in a tumour have slightly different characteristics, making some of them better able to survive attack by chemotherapy.


Tumour cell variation Tumour cells divide every few days. In the absence of treatment with chemotherapy those cells that perhaps grow more quickly, or spread more easily may be favoured, and will form the predominant cell population. But a huge variety of other cell types are there too, in smaller numbers. We call this tumour cell heterogeneity. When an oncologist administers chemotherapy for the first time, the tumour cell population comes

under attack in a way it has not experienced before, and suddenly those successful cells that were dividing readily start to die off in huge numbers: a clinical response. In some cases the chemotherapy wins and the tumour cells are all killed. Unfortunately, and all too often, the heterogeneous nature of the tumour means that a small population of resistant cells exist with some combination of mutations that gives them a survival advantage in the presence of chemotherapy. And these cells can now grow and divide to form a new tumour: a relapse.

‘Mutation gives some cancerous cells a survival advantage during chemotherapy.’ Of course there is scope for infinite variety in quite when and how these chemotherapy resistant cells will emerge as the predominant population. But when these drug resistant cells become the rule rather than the exception, conventional chemotherapy is no longer useful. It is on this significant issue that my team’s work is focused.

funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


The incredible pace of progress So how do we start to make sense of this impossibly complex mixture of cells, and understand the ways in which cancer manages to survive in the presence of toxic chemotherapeutic drugs? Research is moving at an incredible and accelerating pace. Fifteen years ago determining the DNA sequence of a single gene (a few thousand DNA bases) was a daunting undertaking: the analysis methods were slow and labour intensive, and the number of genes identified small. Now, sequencing an entire genome – over three billion DNA bases – can be done in a weekend, and the methods of analysis have become ever more sophisticated and automated.

and these women’s generous participation in our studies have made our research possible. Because much of the variation between one person’s cancer and another’s is therefore removed, we can focus on just those things that are altered when chemotherapy stops working.

Hyper-active genes Genes in a cancer cell can be ‘switched on’ and ‘switched off’ through a process called transcription. So we measured which genes were being transcribed in chemosensitive and chemoresistant cells from individual patients, and identified a number of genes that were ‘hyper-active’ in cells that no longer responded to chemotherapy.

Needles in a haystack Technology is nothing without guidance; without asking the right questions. My group at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre is focused squarely on understanding the development of resistance to chemotherapy. It is our firm belief that understanding what makes a tumour cell stop responding to chemotherapy is the key to overcoming this resistance, and to developing new therapeutic approaches that can be matched specifically to patients. But determining the cause of chemoresistance is akin to finding needles in a haystack. All tumours are different and there are hundreds of thousands of active molecules in each tumour cell, any one of which could alter the behaviour of the cell. The problem we face is how we reduce this enormous complexity.

Tracking resistance in patients In our laboratory we have taken cells from patients with ovarian cancer at a time when they were responding well to chemotherapy, and compared them to cells taken from that same patient after chemotherapy failed. This seemingly simple idea is a very powerful means to understanding resistance at a sub-cellular level

‘Genes in cancer cells can be switched on and switched off.’ We reasoned these genes are far more likely to play an active role: keeping the tumour cell alive despite the attack from the chemotherapy drugs. And this is exactly what has emerged to be the case, because when we remove or inhibit the function of some of these genes we see the tumour cells start to respond to chemotherapy again. So we are beginning to understand chemo-resistance at the level of the individual genes that cause it. This understanding is directly providing us with new targets for drug development, new ways of studying tumours in order to identify what ‘type’ they are, and which drug might be expected to work best.

Advancing tomorrow’s treatments Through our research we have identified a new way in which tumour cells, when they detect the damage caused by chemotherapy, activate a gene that promotes their survival, and we can inhibit this to reverse resistance to chemotherapy. Further, we have identified a function of a molecule that sits on the outer surface of resistant cells whereby it appears

To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit

Dr Euan Stronach

to signal to the cell inside to stay alive, to resist the normal toxic effect of the chemotherapy.


With our findings comes the potential to switch off these mechanisms in patients’ tumours through drug treatment; to allow chemotherapy to become effective once again. It is an exciting time in our research as these novel molecular mechanisms identified in our laboratory are developed for patient trials in the clinic. We strongly believe this work will lead to tomorrow's treatments – treatments that might significantly improve the outlook for ovarian cancer patients.

We are grateful to The Mitchell Charitable Trust and the Rosetrees Trust for kindly supporting aspects of this vital work. If you have any links with charitable trusts that may be interested in providing further support, please contact Chloe Johnson at Ovarian Cancer Action on 0300 456 4709 or email her at


Donations from supporters and fundraisers are vital to help our research continue. A donation of £15 could pay for 300 microscope slides, used by our scientists to study ovarian cancer tumours. £250 can pay for antibodies – vital tools to detect important changes in the ovarian cancers being studied. Please send a donation today, or arrange to make a regular monthly gift to Ovarian Cancer Action. A donation form can be found on the tear off slip at the back of this newsletter.



New Tribute Wall unveiled! The Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre is at the heart of our work – so what better place to site our new Tribute Wall? At two unveiling ceremonies in October, we were joined by supporters to celebrate the lives of some extraordinary women.

Julie McGowan and Jonathan Melhuish

With more than a hundred Love Women Tribute Funds now established, we wanted to invite as many people as possible to the unveiling of our new Tribute Wall at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre. And when more than 150 supporters and fundraisers accepted our invitation we had to arrange two events instead of one!

At the heart of our work The wall has been sited at the entrance to the Research Centre because people affected by ovarian cancer are at the heart of what we do. It is a striking, modern design incorporating a series of clear perspex tiles on which fund


names are etched. Once a Tribute Fund raises £1,000 for Ovarian Cancer Action the name of the person being honoured by the fund will be added to the wall. Alongside the wall is a brief history of our charity and some information about our major donors.

A celebration of life Gwyneth Strong, actress and Patron of our Love Women Tribute Funds joined us at one of the events to see her mother’s name unveiled on the Tribute Wall. She says: ‘Funds are a collective effort and exist to allow friends and family to pool their resources and celebrate the life of someone they love, while helping the fight against ovarian cancer. My sisters and I

feel very close to this fundraising initiative, and it’s lovely for me that the wall is in London, because my mother is buried in Wales and I may only visit there a few times each year. I found the whole day very emotional but the unveiling ceremony was very uplifting. I’m delighted Ovarian Cancer Action plans to hold at least one event like this every year, when supporters will be invited to see new plaques unveiled.’

Celebrating our achievements The receptions to unveil the new Tribute Wall also celebrated the fact that it has been just over a year since our research team moved into their new laboratory

facilities at Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus. The relocation was a direct response to the continued expansion and success of our research funding. Allyson Kaye, Ovarian Cancer Action’s Chair, says: ‘The new Tribute Wall not only gives us a visible way to celebrate the amazing efforts of our supporters who raise funds for our charity, it also celebrates the achievements of Ovarian Cancer Action. In the last two years our charity has more than doubled the funding of our Research Centre, and doubled the size of our research team. Every milestone we achieve is taking us closer to the day when ovarian cancer will be a curable disease.’

funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


Actress Gwyneth Strong and her sisters

Gwyneth Strong at the Tribute Wall

Katy Sheridan and Graham Welsh

Barbara Crayden

Grant Crayden, Jo Higgins, Toby Crayden and Clare Bristow

‘It was a special moment when Barbara’s name was unveiled on the Tribute Wall,’ says Grant Crayden, whose wife Barbara died from ovarian cancer earlier this year. ‘As a family we’re trying to come to terms with our loss and we’re channelling our energy into raising funds to help beat this terrible disease. We wanted to raise £3,000 for Ovarian Cancer Action by the anniversary of Barbara’s death and we’ve already made our target. Seeing the new Tribute Wall and attending the unveiling ceremony at the Research Centre was very motivating and we want to keep up the momentum to raise even more money.’

Michelle Chow Victoria Attwood Scott set up a Love Women Tribute Fund in memory of her friend, Michelle Chow, who passed away last year, aged just 39. Michelle was a devoted wife and mother. ‘Seeing Michelle’s name on the Tribute Wall brought a lump to my throat,’ she says. ‘But it was a good feeling, because I know she would have been amazed that so many people she knew have been helping us raise money for Ovarian Cancer Action. Our Tribute Fund has almost taken on a life of its own and we’ve raised more than £9,000 so far. But even though we’ve exceeded our target we’re going to carry on fundraising in memory of Michelle.’

The Tribute Wall

Ruth Clarke (née Staniforth)

Katherine Staniforth and Deborah Buckmaster

The Ruth Clarke Tribute Fund was set up by Helen and Katherine Staniforth, and Deborah Buckmaster, in memory of their sister. In just over one year the fund has raised more than £4,000. Katherine says: ‘Thank you for creating the Tribute Wall, because we’re all so proud of Ruthie! So often grief can tear families apart, but sharing a common goal to raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Action has brought us together – and remembering the determination and strength with which Ruth fought her illness keeps us going. We’re going to continue with our marathons, cycle runs, Christmas fairs and Cupcake Breaks as a tribute to her.’

G E T I N V O LV E D !

It couldn’t be easier to set up a Love Women Tribute Fund to honour someone you love. Simply visit, call Hannah Greenshields on 0300 456 4704 or email We regularly hold tours of our Research Centre. If you would like to register your interest in attending a tour, please email or call us on 0300 456 4700. Donations from supporters and fundraisers are vital to helping our work continue. If you would like to help please send a donation today, or arrange to make a regular monthly donation. It really will make a difference! A donation form can be found on the tear off slip at the back of this newsletter.

To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit



Ovarian cancer research Professor Hani Gabra, Director at Ovarian Cancer Action’s Research Centre, Imperial College Hammersmith, considers some exciting developments in ovarian cancer research. One of the most important areas of cancer research in recent years has been the field of angiogenesis, or targeting the blood vessels that feed the cancer and allow it to grow; and ovarian cancer has become the subject of intense investigation with antiangiogenic targeted therapies.

Recent trials Two trials – one in the USA and one in Europe – have been completed recently. The results in both showed that the drug Avastin (also known as bevacizumab), when given together with chemotherapy, and then following chemotherapy as a single ‘maintenance’ treatment, improved the time patients had with no evidence of the disease worsening. The Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre participated in the European study, so we are naturally pleased to see these results.

A key player Our Centre is a key player in the research being done to combat ovarian cancer – through our own research programme and through collaborations with other centres around the world. We recently participated in a trial of another angiogenesis drug, and are currently investigating antiangiogenic drugs such as cediranib and pazopanib in different clinical trials in ovarian cancer.

A step closer At this stage it would be premature to draw any major conclusions from these various

trials because the results still need more investigation. We are, however, hopeful that they are taking us a step closer to developing effective antiangiongenesis approaches.

Bench to bedside At the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre we continue to progress our ‘bench to bedside’ approach – to use the discoveries we make in the laboratory more quickly in clinical trials and patient care. This summer we began a clinical trial with a targeted medicine called an AKT inhibitor that we predict may be very active against platinum resistant ovarian cancer (when the cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy). Recent work undertaken by Cancer Research UK supports our ideas and shows that, rather than platinum resistant ovarian cancer growing out of the original platinum sensitive disease, it actually co-exists as a tiny population of cells right at the beginning of treatment. This means that treatments like AKT inhibitors (that target platinum resistance) could probably be used right at the beginning of treatment, rather than when patients’ ovarian cancer actually becomes resistant to platinum-based treatment. This interesting concept is a direct extrapolation of this type of platinum resistance research, and our trial has recruited patients very fast and is already nearing completion. (You can read more about chemotherapy resistance in the article on page 6.)

Professor Hani Gabra

Similarly, when this Centre identified a tumour suppressor gene (OPCML) we were also able to work out its mechanism of action. Now we are looking to set up a clinical trial with a genetically engineered protein we have designed that mimics this natural tumour suppressor. The early indications are that it is quite potent against ovarian cancer cells whilst not harming normal ovarian cells.

Beating ovarian cancer It is crystal clear that research is the only way we are going to improve treatment options for ovarian cancer. Our team at the

Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre understands how to implement research findings as rapidly as possible into the clinic, and how to evaluate how research impacts on diagnosis, treatment and survival – as well as quality of life. It only takes one patient to achieve dramatic results from these new research-led, targeted treatments for everyone to see the intrinsic value of this difficult but essential activity. This kind of research takes many years to come to fruition, so it is vitally important that even in this economic climate such groundbreaking research projects continue to be funded.


The Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre is working on a focused and co-ordinated programme of research. This is why the discoveries made in its laboratories can move more quickly to clinical trials and patient care. Donations from supporters and fundraisers are vital in helping our research continue. Please send a donation today, or arrange to make a regular monthly donation to Ovarian Cancer Action. A donation form can be found on the tear off slip at the back of this newsletter.

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funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


My story: Dr. Jo Sherrington As a GP who has lost her mum to ovarian cancer I know only too well how important it is that we raise awareness of the symptoms of this disease. As a practising GP of course I know about ovarian cancer, but I also know that many of its symptoms can suggest other illnesses, which can make it very difficult to diagnose.

A false start My mum, Margaret, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged 62. She had gone to her GP after a few episodes of bowel disturbance and pain, and she was referred to a bowel specialist. At that consultation she mentioned she also had indigestion, so the consultant arranged an endoscopy; and when that showed an abnormality, an ultrasound scan which revealed a very large tumour on her ovary. She was immediately referred to a gynaecologist who specialised in gynaecological cancers. All this had taken about four months, which felt frustratingly slow. Even working in the NHS there was little I could do to speed things along. At the time of Mum’s operation her CA125 reading was practically off the chart. But the operation, followed by chemotherapy, brought it back to ‘almost normal’ and Mum picked up the threads of her life and carried on as before.

Other complications Mum continued with regular hospital visits: initially to The Royal Preston Hospital where she had further chemotherapy, and then to the Christie Hospital in Manchester where she was also accepted on a clinical trial. But before she could begin the trial other complications set in. She developed a deep vein thrombosis in her groin, and later complications following chemotherapy. Over the next year Mum spent more time in hospital than out of it, and her ovarian cancer had to take a back seat because she was not strong enough to have more treatment or chemotherapy.

Jo Sherrington with her husband, Russell, and their boys

My sister and I took it in turns to be with her; and my husband, Russell, managed things at home and looked after our two boys. The months seemed to flash by. In October 2009, although Mum’s other conditions were fairly stable, we were told that chemotherapy was no longer an option because her cancer was too advanced. Despite this Mum was determined to enjoy Christmas with her family, and she managed it as we knew she would. We were all with her when she died on New Year’s Eve morning.

Supporting Ovarian Cancer Action At Mum’s funeral we asked for donations instead of flowers, and Mum had decided any money we raised should be shared between Ovarian Cancer Action and the Christie Hospital, where she had had such wonderful care. The decision to support Ovarian Cancer Action was easy because it does so much research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit

Our Tribute Fund We have set up a Love Women Tribute Fund in Mum’s name, which has been a good way of turning a horrible experience into something positive. Recently we had a tree planting ceremony at Weldbank Church, followed by a walk around Rivington – one of Mum’s favourites. We wore Ovarian Cancer Action and Christie t-shirts for the occasion and were joined by friends and family. People made donations if they wanted to, and the day raised more than £1,000. Mum would have loved it!

Becoming a Voice I have also become an Ovarian Cancer Voice. As a GP I can help Ovarian Cancer Action with some of the work they do with health professionals, and at a local level I have encouraged my own, and other GP practices in Birmingham to display posters and leaflets during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It all has to help. As Mum’s daughter and a GP I have seen both sides of ovarian cancer. But even knowing everything that I do, I am very

aware of how difficult a diagnosis is. Raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer is so important if we are to improve women’s chances of getting an early diagnosis – and early diagnosis is going to be a key to us beating this disease. Jo’s parents


Ovarian Cancer Action works in three key areas: funding research, raising awareness and giving a voice to everyone affected by ovarian cancer. Donations from supporters and fundraisers are vital to help our work continue. Please send a donation today using the form on the tear off slip at the back of this newsletter. Or visit to find out ways you could help our work.

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Remember the symptoms When we launched our 8Remember the symptoms campaign in Autumn 2009 we believed it would catch people’s imagination. But we never dreamed it would make such an impact in such a short time. After just one year, Ovarian Cancer Action’s 8Remember the symptoms campaign continues to build momentum – raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer amongst the public and, in particular, women and healthcare professionals.

Chain reaction Within weeks of launch, our campaign advertisement featuring actress Emilia Fox achieved widespread coverage, prompting a number of media companies to donate advertising space in national magazines and newspapers to Ovarian Cancer Action. Then, in the run-up to Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we launched the UK’s first online symptoms awareness campaign, asking people to pledge to remember the symptoms of ovarian cancer and share the information with others. Our campaign was quickly chosen as the Digital Campaign of the Week by the leading charity publication, Third Sector. This summer, our advertisement was named the strongest performing newspaper advertisement by the Newspaper Marketing Agency (see page 3). This accolade has played a major role in helping secure more advertising in magazines and newspapers, as well as outdoor advertising space at a number of sites in London. We hope to see the campaign extend across the UK in the coming months.

Persistence pays off All this has been achieved by being persistent in our requests for support from the media. We have worked closely with a great team of experts at ad agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe Y&R and media company MPG, who have worked with us on a pro bono basis, and secured

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Key campaign achievements Since 2009, we have: • Secured the support of the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing. • Had advertising space worth £300,000 donated in national print media. • Secured outdoor advertising at 11 London-based sites. • Encouraged over 2,200 women to pledge online to remember the symptoms of ovarian cancer and share them with others. • Heard from at least one woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer at an early stage – simply as a result of our campaign.

substantial support from national press and women’s magazines. We are also incredibly grateful to our Ovarian Cancer Voices, some of whom agreed to be photographed for our awareness leaflets and posters, and filmed for the online campaign. Their support and participation made our campaign come alive.

Add your support Although we have already achieved so much, we still have a long way to go to ensure every woman remembers the symptoms of ovarian cancer. We need your support to help us get the *Remember the symptoms message out to the general public – so please help us if you can!


If our leaflets and posters are not already on display in your local health clinic or GP surgery, we can send supplies. Call us on 0300 456 4700 or email Ask your local MP to become a Champion of our *Remember the symptoms campaign. Their support at a local level will encourage the Government to back our national campaign. Join Ovarian Cancer Voices and help us make sure the voices of people affected by ovarian cancer are heard. See the ad on the back of this newsletter or visit Organise an event in your area to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and funds for Ovarian Cancer Action. We can send you a support pack full of useful information, ideas, tips and advice. To request a copy, call us on 0300 456 4700 or email Visit, pledge to remember the symptoms of ovarian cancer and email your family and friends to encourage them to do the same.

funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


Meet Chloe Johnson Our new Trusts & Foundations Fundraiser has been fundraising for scientific research for more than six years, and she joined Ovarian Cancer Action in June. As our new Trusts & Foundations Fundraiser, it is Chloe’s job to look after relationships with existing donors; and to identify charitable trusts and foundations whose interests dovetail with our work, and encourage them to support Ovarian Cancer Action through grants or donations. Whether they choose to support our research into the causes and treatment of ovarian cancer, or our work to raise awareness of the disease, the longer term goal is for us to secure more guaranteed income so we can plan our future projects more effectively.

Kindling a spark Chloe has a degree in Psychology from Nottingham University. ‘Philanthropy and altruism was a small aspect of my degree course,’ says Chloe, ‘but it sparked an interest which I’ve been lucky enough to be able to pursue in my career. ‘The lovely thing about my job is that it’s all about developing longterm relationships with donors and supporters. And there are so many positive things happening at Ovarian Cancer Action that it’s easy to convince people to get involved,’ she adds.

Seize the moment Ovarian Cancer Action already has the support of some large charitable trusts: The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation and the John Ellerman Foundation. Each has donated money and pledged grants which we have been able to invest in our Research Centre and awareness work. But the generosity of smaller trusts that give varying amounts – from small family trusts which might donate a one-off sum, to larger trusts that may pledge money over a longer period of time – is also crucial to enable us to achieve our goals.

Laying foundations In the coming months, Chloe will be getting to know Ovarian Cancer Action’s existing charitable trust and foundation supporters. She will be updating them on the recent achievements of the charity and our plans for the future, to motivate them to continue with their support. She will also be researching trusts that might be interested in working with us, because we need new partners to help us grow our research and awareness activities.

Matching needs Another aspect of Chloe’s job is applying for funding. Applications must be tailored to individual trusts so our proposal must focus on their particular area of interest.

Chloe Johnson

Chloe says: ‘It’s about identifying which area of our work would be of most interest to the Trustees, and recognising opportunities for working together. I will often meet with Trustees and administrators to explain the work of Ovarian Cancer Action. If a trust is interested in wider healthcare issues we may tell them about the work we do with GPs and health professionals. Or it may be helpful to arrange a visit to our Research Centre so they can see the groundbreaking work being done there, and meet some of the research team.’

In her spare time Chloe is a keen cook and enjoys cycling, running and yoga. She hopes to run a marathon to raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Action, and is also planning a Cupcake Break party.

Immediate motivation

‘I’ve been inspired!’

Chloe visited the Research Centre herself when she first joined Ovarian Cancer Action. ‘It was a fascinating day,’ she says. ‘Having a dedicated research centre at Imperial College’s Hammersmith campus, which is based at Hammersmith Hospital, makes everything so immediate. Professor Hani Gabra has daily contact with patients who have ovarian cancer, so he has a

‘Until now I’ve worked for relatively large charities,’ says Chloe. ‘Ovarian Cancer Action is a smaller organisation but it’s expanding rapidly, and it’s a very exciting place to work. I’m also enjoying having more contact with the charity’s supporters and fundraisers. Just as I’ve been inspired by everything I’ve seen, I hope to inspire others too!’

To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit

profound understanding of their experiences and needs; and discoveries made in the laboratory can be used more quickly in clinical trials and patient care. I found the connection incredibly motivating.’

G E T I N V O LV E D !

If you are a Trustee, or have any links to charitable trusts and foundations who may be interested in supporting Ovarian Cancer Action, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Chloe on 0300 456 4709 or email her at to talk about how you could help with our fundraising. Could you organise an event to raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Action? See pages 14-15 in this newsletter for ideas, or think of some new ones! Hannah Greenshields, our Community Fundraiser can help. Call her on 0300 456 4704 or email hgreenshields

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Now restructured and recovered

Mince pies and festive mulled wine This Christmas we’re asking our supporters to embrace the festive season by holding a festive fundraiser! You could hold a Cupcake Break with a Christmas theme, or perhaps extend the idea and hold a Mince Pie Break. Catching up with friends and family over a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine would be a great way to share important information about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Action.

Paul Zalkin thought that climbing three mountains in succession in just 24-hours sounded such a good idea that he persuaded a team of his work colleagues at Baker Tilly Restructuring and Recovery LLP to join in the fun! And just eight weeks later the team raised a magnificent £4,500 for Ovarian Cancer Action. Paul says: ‘As accountants and business advisers we’re more used to sitting at desks all day than climbing mountains. But I was determined to step out of my comfort zone and do something to support my sister who is being treated for ovarian cancer. ‘Once people had signed up for the challenge everyone threw themselves into training. But when we stood at the base of our first mountain, Ben Nevis, I know

If you would like a copy of our fundraising guide contact Hannah Greenshields by emailing hgreenshields@ or calling 0300 456 4704, and you can download our symptoms awareness leaflet from our website at

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several people were wondering what on earth they’d let themselves in for.’ 24-hours, 27 miles and 10,000 feet later the team was victorious – the majority completed the challenge within the deadline, four finishing just outside the 24 hours, and one poor soul having taken

an injury-related ‘early bath’. Paul says: ‘We were lucky the weather was unusually good for early September. And we were helped by the skill of our support drivers, Samantha Lightfoot and Ges Atherton… as well as enough pasta to feed a small country for a year!’

Cycle the Lights

Shape up!

Simon Curtis lost his mum to ovarian cancer in June 2009, just one month after a friend of his had also lost his mother to the same disease.

Could you make a New Year’s resolution to help Ovarian Cancer Action? Sign up and take part in a 2011 fitness challenge. We have guaranteed places in a fantastic line-up of running events – to suit everyone from a fully fledged fitness fanatic, to someone who has never put on a pair of trainers!

‘It’s only when you have firsthand experience of ovarian cancer that you realise it exists, and I wanted to challenge myself and do something a bit different to raise awareness of the disease,’ says Simon.


Lewis Brooker, Louise Tasker, Bruce Mackay, Emma Hickmont, Victoria Liemann, Jason De Andrade, Paul Zalkin, Richard Cherry, David Hudson and Chris Sanders

‘Something a bit different’ turned into Simon’s Cycle the Lights tour – a journey of about 6,000 miles, visiting all the lighthouses around the coast of Britain! Accompanied by his dad, Phil, who drove the support camper van, Simon set out in March and finished in July – raising nearly £4,000 for Ovarian Cancer Action. He says: ‘I did the tour as a tribute to my mum, and it was an incredible journey. When I was feeling tired it was the thought that my charity ride was raising awareness and might save lives that kept me focussed and pedalling hard!’

Minimum sponsorship is £250 and there’s no registration fee!

Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon Held at the historic Silverstone motor racing circuit, whether you are attempting your first half marathon or using this event as training run for the Virgin London Marathon, this is the race for you.

BUPA London 10,000 Run the Virgin London Marathon route without having to do the full 26.2 miles. The BUPA London 10,000 starts and finishes in St. James’s Park and takes in many of London’s famous sights. If nothing else, the route will inspire you.

funding research | raising awareness | giving a voice


Fantastic fundraisers Charity Ball and Indian Feast

Gurbachan Johal (centre)

Gurbachan (Jill) Johal is an Ovarian Cancer Voice who works tirelessly to help raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. This summer she focused on fundraising and hosted her first Charity Ball at The Monsoon Banqueting Suite in Southall. More than 300 guests enjoyed a three course Indian feast, drinks, DJ, a raffle, and a dance performance. There was also a guest appearance by singer, Foji – the newest talent to hit the Bhangra scene. Everyone had a great time and the evening raised more than £4,000. Thank you, Jill!

Coastal walk Our thanks to Joyce Ross, who did a coastal walk with friends to raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Action. They collected more than £1,128 in sponsorship plus £500 in matched funding, so the total raised is £1,628. ‘We had wonderful weather for our walk and a lot of fun along the way, surrounded by beautiful scenery,’ says Joyce.

Joyce Ross (left)

Joyce Ross (right)

Great North Run

Mick Dunn, Chief Fire Officer David Etheridge, and Gary Crone

As a fire fighter for Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service and a keen runner, Mick Dunn decided to do the Great North Run to raise awareness and funds for Ovarian Cancer Action in memory of his mother-in-law, Leslie Farmer. And in case that seemed too easy, he and his colleague Gary Crone ran the race in full fire fighter gear – which weighs an extra 10 kilos! They completed the race in an impressive 1hr 48min 55 seconds. A huge thank you to Mick and Gary for raising a fantastic £1,800 for Ovarian Cancer Action.

Climbing Kilimanjaro Paul Walker climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in memory of his mum, Jill, and raised more than £4,000 for Ovarian Cancer Action. Paul covered the cost of the trip himself, and to prepare he took part in a London to Brighton bike ride, the Milton Keynes half marathon, and hiked up Mount Snowden. He also walked in the Peak District, accompanied by sons Josh and Alex, sister Alison Holmes, brother Mark and dad Gordon. Our thanks to Paul and his whole family for the incredible support they have given to Ovarian Cancer Action.

Mount Kilimanjaro


Supporters of Ovarian Cancer Action do some truly amazing things to raise money for us, but often we only hear about it when a cheque arrives in our office. We would love to include your stories and photographs in our newsletter. Please remember to take your photographs on your camera’s highest quality setting, and if you would like to receive our free guide on taking the best photographs then please contact us. Email or call 0300 456 4704.

Thank you to all our fantastic supporters and fundraisers who have supported Ovarian Cancer Action in the past few months. Our supporters are too numerous to mention in this space but we really appreciate all of your efforts and dedicated support. Here are just some: Bearsden Flower Club, Lewis Brooker, Terry Burton, Circle of Eight Edgware, Peter Clements, Cary Cochrane and her Cupcake Break supporters, Ann Coulthard, Vince Craig, Sara Dale, Aine Donovan, Liz Dunn, Ellie Flather, Sarah Fletcher, Brenda Gingell, Anita Gittins, Rae Harilela and The Corporate Executive Board, Matthew Harris, Carol Hazelhurst, Tina Horrocks, Kath Jackson, Bethan Jones, Kirstin Lashbrooke, Gareth Llewellyn, Michael Luckett, Saun Macken, Gillian McCann, Julie Mitchell and Unipart Aftermarket Logistics, Elaine Nowlan, Lois Partridge, Mitali Patel, Tom Pattison, Stuart Powell, Mr M Robinson, Stewart Robinson, Wendy Robinson, Andrea Roddy, Maria Sandford, John Sands, Nikki Scrivener, Mrs B Undery, Debbie Vince and the Tax Secretarial Team at Ernst & Young, and Angela Walker.

To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit

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