Cancer message gets huge billing

The Cure Our Ovarian Cancer billboard in Piccadilly Circus, London, on Saturday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The Cure Our Ovarian Cancer billboard in Piccadilly Circus, London, on Saturday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
"An ad you can’t miss, for a cancer you do."

Jane Ludemann
Jane Ludemann
That is the tagline that appeared on billboards in London’s Piccadilly Circus and New York’s Times Square on Saturday, as part of a campaign organised by Dunedin woman Jane Ludemann to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.

Ms Ludemann, who founded the Cure Our Ovarian Cancer charity after her diagnosis with low-grade serous (LGS) ovarian cancer four years ago, organised the giant billboards to mark World Ovarian Cancer Day.

They feature the faces of more than 30 women, including four New Zealanders, all diagnosed with LGS ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer was a difficult reality to be faced with, but the women were all focused on providing better outcomes for them and others, Ms Ludemann said. New Zealand creative agency Topham Guerin had helped with the campaign free of charge.

The scale of the international campaign — and the extremes women were going to to be heard — "speaks to the urgency of the situation", Ms Ludemann said.

"In New Zealand, all women with ovarian cancer are struggling. The Government hasn’t funded any ovarian cancer research in over four years and our overall ovarian cancer survival lags behind Australia."

Ms Ludemann, who was brought up on a farm in rural North Otago, wanted the campaign to draw attention specifically to LGS cancer, but also to all forms of ovarian cancer. She also hoped it would encourage donations to Ovarian Cancer New Zealand.

"We want women of all ages to be aware of the subtle symptoms of ovarian cancer which can easily be missed and dismissed. And we want research so women with ovarian cancer live longer."

Ms Ludemann started noticing unusual symptoms about two years before her diagnosis. Visits to doctors did not provide any immediate answers.

When Ms Ludemann was finally diagnosed at age 32, she was stage two, and doctors gave her five to 15 years to live.

"It’s a lot of uncertainty to live with. At the moment, I’m doing well on my treatment, which is great," she said.

In February, Ms Ludemann presented a petition with more than 7000 signatures to National MP Louise Upston at Parliament.

Petitioners called for the Government to help raise awareness and fund research to reduce the death toll from New Zealand’s least survivable women’s cancer.

Common ovarian cancer symptoms include:

Increase in tummy size

Bloating

Abdominal/back/pelvic pain

Needing to urinate more often or urgently

Bowel changes

Fatigue

Source: cureourovariancancer.org

rebecca.ryan@odt.co.nz

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