In her own words: Cancer survivor Jan Antony

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Winter ‘22
Key Researchers
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“As a five-time cancer survivor, I know I am unbelievably lucky to be alive. However, this is not the reality for the majority of ovarian cancer patients.”

Ovarian cancer is a complex cancer, with many different forms.

The symptoms can be very subtle and can often be hard to distinguish. Even with treatment, 54 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will die within five years of their diagnosis.

This is a devastating reality that we want to change, and with the help of WEHI’s community of supporters, we are hopeful that we will.

Gruelling journey

At the age of 49 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was terrified that I might not be there for my daughter, Zoe, who at the time was only seven. Fortunately, the surgery was successful, and the breast cancer did not return.

Fourteen years later, I mentioned to my doctor that I was experiencing some bloating, which was a fairly common complaint for a 64-year old woman. After being referred to an oncologist and completing some tests, I was unfortunately diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer.

With the support of my doctor, I underwent four months of gruelling chemotherapy. After finishing the chemotherapy and then participating in a clinical trial for a new treatment, I received the good news that I was in remission.

In the following five years I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer another three times. Each time the cancer was different as well as the treatments and side effects.

“I was one of the lucky ones to have survived it so far.”
Jan Antony

Sadly, the majority of the courageous, positive and loving women I met along this journey are no longer with us today.

Personalised therapies

Currently, the treatment paradigm for ovarian cancer is a ‘one size fits all’ plan, which is not right for many women diagnosed with this disease.

I know first-hand how passionate and committed WEHI’s researchers are to finding better treatments and early diagnostic tools to stop ovarian cancer.

I work closely with Professor Clare Scott and her team as a consumer advocate, helping guide their research by sharing my life experience and insights. Professor Scott is joint head of Clinical Translation at WEHI and a medical oncologist at three hospitals in Melbourne. She and her WEHI team are focused on developing personalised therapies for ovarian cancer.

The team has identified a new group of ovarian cancer patients who should be included in trials of PARP inhibitors, a type of targeted, personalised cancer therapy that is effective in cancers such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

I am so thankful to all the incredible people who support WEHI and their medical research, because if it were not for them, I would not be here today.


To donate to WEHI, visit wehi.edu.au/ovariancancerappeal or phone 03 9345 2403.

First published on 01 June 2022
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Winter ‘22
WEHI Authors
Centre Head
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