Meghan Speers has struggled with survivor’s guilt after battling ovarian cancer and is all too aware of the need for more research and support.
After feeling sick for several weeks, Ms Speers went to a doctor who ordered blood tests.
He told her she was pregnant but further tests showed that wasn’t the case.
Doctors discovered a 13cm malignant tumour on her right ovary, kickstarting a difficult 12 months of treatment.
“There was no specific ovarian cancer support at my hospital. I was the youngest on the ward by a very long way,” Ms Speers told an event at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday.
“Mine was the cancer people whispered about.”
Ms Speers endured her “darkest hour” after being given the OK to return to work as a tax lawyer in London.
“I was frightened, I was vulnerable, and no longer the career-climbing chartered accountant and solicitor I was before my cancer,” she said.
“So many amazing women have lost their battles with ovarian cancer and my survivor guilt was at times unbearable.”
Ms Speers eventually contacted Ovarian Cancer Australia where she connected with other women who had walked in her shoes.
“We need funding for awareness and research, and that goes without saying. But the psychological support of our women and their families is very important too,” she said.
Ms Speers was speaking at an annual event run by Ovarian Cancer Australia aimed at rallying political support for combating the condition.
More than 4000 women are living with ovarian cancer at any given time, with four diagnosed each day.
There is only one support professional for every 600 sufferers.
Just 46 per cent survive the condition, making it the most lethal women’s cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths in Australia.
Two women who spoke at last year’s Ovarian Cancer Australia event – journalist Jill Emberson and Kristen Larsen – have since died.
The organisation has asked the federal government for $9 million from to help fund 21 ovarian cancer nurses.
Scott Morrison said his government was committed to the “brighter future” that Ms Emberson and Ms Larsen campaigned for.
“No amount of funding can ever be enough in this area and that’s why I think it will always be true to say, there can always be more that can be done,” the prime minister said.
He noted the federal government has invested $20 million in ovarian cancer medical research and $15 million in clinical trials for gynaecological cancers.
Labor health spokeswoman Chris Bowen said among the challenges posed by the disease is that early detection is so difficult, with no screening test available.
But he’s confident a test will be developed to help improve survival rates.