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Prestigious award honours game changers in gynaecological cancer

The 2020 Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award honouring those who have made outstanding contributions to improving outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer,* has been awarded to Ms Kristen Larsen and Professor Anna DeFazio.

“Gynaecological cancers continue to have a significant impact on our community. We congratulate this year’s inspirational recipients of the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award, and acknowledge them for their remarkable, and very different, achievements in improving awareness and outcomes in gynaecological cancers,” said Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO Cancer Australia.

In 2020, it is estimated that approximately 18 women will be diagnosed with gynaecological cancer each day in Australia. It will be the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in women this year.

Kristen Larsen, the first posthumous recipient of the Award, has been recognised in Category One, for members of the community, for her passionate advocacy for ovarian cancer awareness.

Kristen was diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer at the age of 21. She dedicated the remaining six years of her life to raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer. As the face of many campaigns and fundraisers, Kristen shared her story extensively in the media, and through her international advocacy she raised awareness on a global scale. Kristen’s fearless advocacy contributed to raising millions of dollars for cancer research.

“The posthumous award of the 2020 Cancer Australia Jeanie Ferris Recognition Award to Kristen is incredibly special to our family. Kristen selflessly devoted much of the remaining years of her life in the hope of making a difference to women with gynaecological cancers in the future. Kristen’s impact was immeasurable and defied borders. We are so proud that Kristen is being recognised in this way for her remarkable achievements,” said Kristen’s sister Elsa Larsen.

Professor Anna DeFazio is the successful recipient of Category Two of the Award, open to health professionals and researchers, working in gynaecological cancer.

One of Australia’s leading translational ovarian cancer researchers, Professor Anna DeFazio of Sydney University heads the Gynaecological Oncology research program at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research. The focus of her research is to understand the clinical and genomic factors that influence response and resistance to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer. Professor DeFazio has devoted her career to progressing outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer and has shown exceptional leadership in ovarian cancer research.

“While it is my name on this award, it is really an award deserved by the whole team that I have the great pleasure to work with,” stated Professor DeFazio. “I work with a wonderful team of researchers in Sydney and collaboratively across Australia and internationally. At Westmead we have established a model of embedding research into clinical care. This way, researchers can see first-hand the most difficult challenges faced by the doctors looking after women with ovarian cancer. We have taken on these challenges and made them the focus of our research.”

Established in 2013, the Award is named in honour of the late Jeannie Ferris, former Senator for South Australia who was passionately committed to raising awareness about gynaecological cancer in Australia. Senator Ferris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2005 and passed away in April 2007.

* Gynaecological cancer is an overarching term used to describe cancer of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina and vulva, as well other female genital organs and placenta (a pregnancy related cancer).