Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from the disease.

Ovarian Cancer Australia is calling on Australians to walk or run four kilometres every day (one kilometre for each woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer each day) this November as part of the Workout 4 Women challenge to raise much needed funds and support Australian women living with ovarian cancer.

Annalei Warren was rushed into emergency in the middle of the night with severe pain in her side and was taken in for emergency surgery. 

She awoke to find that she had a colostomy bag and a stapled wound from her abdomen to her pelvis. She was shocked to learn that a secondary mass the size of a golf-ball had been removed from her upper abdomen and she was diagnosed with stage 3c low grade serous ovarian cancer.

A further “debulking” surgery involved a radical hysterectomy, two bowel resections and any tissue or organs with signs of diseased tissue were removed. Annalei then endured six gruelling rounds of chemotherapy to counter the possibility of any residual cancer.

Showing her spirit and determination, Annalei decided to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Australia by shaving her head and turning a side effect of her chemo into a fun event.  Husband Stew shaved his head too because “we are in this together”. The event raised an enormous $20,000!

Stew’s support is a mainstay whilst they deal with ovarian cancer together. Ovarian Cancer Australia has recently launched the Male Partners program to support men like Stew.

The OCA Male Partners Program is based on research undertaken by Ovarian Cancer Australia and Monash University which concluded that there is an array of unmet needs for men whose partners are living with ovarian cancer.

The research revealed that male partners have high levels of anxiety including worry about the future (91%), fear of the cancer spreading (90%) and feeling generally worried or uncertain (88%). Another concern highlighted by the research was changes in sexual relationship (64%).

Dr Janelle Levesque from Monash University who undertook the research into male partners will be taking part in the Workout for Women challenge.

“The Men’s Needs study highlighted the significant impact that ovarian cancer has on the male partners of affected women. Despite their own challenges, men are most likely to feel they need help with caring for the woman they love, rather than addressing their own concerns. The male partners program is an important step in making sure the needs of male caregivers are identified and addressed.

Depression and anxiety are common experiences for men caring for a woman with ovarian cancer, especially for younger men who are also at greater risk of social isolation. The male partners program helps men recognise that they are not alone and that help is available.”

Jane Hill, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Australia will be taking part in the Workout for Women challenge.

“At any given moment there are more than 4,000 women in Australia living with an ovarian cancer diagnosis.  Each day our specialised Ovarian Cancer Support Nurses provide critical support and guidance for women living with ovarian cancer. This support also extends to families.

“The male partners program has been critical in filling a gap in the level of support provided, as we know that partners too, experience their own grief and loss, when witnessing and supporting their partners through an ovarian cancer diagnoses and treatment.

“I really encourage people from all over Australia to challenge themselves this November by registering and taking part in Workout for Women, walking and fundraising, in honour of the four women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each day These women are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, friends, wives and partners.”

Ms Hill urged Australians to take the challenge this November or donate to the cause to show that when it comes to ovarian cancer, no woman walks alone.

For more information and to sign up for Workout4Women please visit www.ovariancancer.net.au/workout