Chairing the Path to Hope
An Exclusive Q&A with Diane Langmack, Board Chair, Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation
Q1 What inspired you to take on the role of Board Chair at the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (AGCF), and what motivates you to continue driving awareness for the foundation and gynaecological cancer?
I was introduced to AGCF via my daughter in-law’s family who sadly lost their mum, Megan Claffey due to gynaecological cancer a number of years ago. Prof. Neville Hacker AM, who is the Founder and Board Member of AGCF, was Megan’s doctor.
Megan was a nurse at the Royal Women’s Private Hospital in Randwick. Megan and I had cancer at the same time. She would always put on a happy face whenever we spent time together, even though she was unwell and knew the road she was travelling was a tough one. She was a great fighter even to the end. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how beautiful and brave Megan was. As a surviving cancer patient myself, it is only fitting that I help others in their time of need via AGCF.
Q2 Can you share some of the most rewarding moments or achievements you’ve experienced in your role as Board Chair of the AGCF so far?
Raising funds to support “Brilliant Minds” like Dr. Dane Cheasley, who was AGCF’s very first successful applicant with the financial support from the ‘Way in Network Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award’ in 2017. In 2018, Dr. Aime Powell was awarded the ‘Cindy Sullivan Fellowship’. These are just a couple of fellowships that the AGCF Board of Directors raise funds for with the financial support of many good people and organisations, who continue to make a difference to people who need support. We need lots of financial support to make sure we have as many “Brilliant Minds” as possible to help make a difference.
Q3 In your opinion, why is it so important to raise awareness about gynaecological cancer?
It’s so important to support those diagnosed with gynaecological cancer when they have been dealt terrible news. As Chair and with the support of AGCF Board we have a vision of raising awareness and support for as many people as possible via one-on-one meetings or group gatherings in 2023/2024. I am very fortunate that I work in sport for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Rugby League Football Club in Sydney, who are very encouraging when it comes to community and family support work. They are looking at holding a lunch at the end of the year to highlight the wonderful work Prof. Neville Hacker AM and the AGCF Board are doing to make a difference.
We won’t want to alarm you, but we do want to arm you. Do you have twenty close female friends? Of course, you do, why wouldn’t you? Well, one of them will experience a gynaecological cancer, and right now she probably doesn’t even know it’s growing inside her.
Every 1.3 hours, an amazing Australian woman, like you, me, or one of our gal pals, is diagnosed with a gynae cancer and every 4 hours an Australian woman like us, dies from a gynae cancer. That’s six women gone by the time we open a bottle of wine tomorrow night! Almost one third of these women will die within 5 years. We can change it, but we need your help!
Research works, we know this from breast cancer … 40 years ago breast cancer and gynae cancer had a similar survival rate: less than 70%. Now, breast cancer has a survival rate of 92% but gynae cancer survival is still only 68%. What happened? Breast cancer receives at least ten times more funding!
There are 8 gynae cancers but only cervical cancer has an early screening and detection test. Once the other cancers are detected it’s often in the advanced stages and by then it’s too late. We can change this. We are aiming to have no cancers diagnosed in the advanced stages. Help US!
We are The Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation – the only organisation that focuses on funding lab research into ALL eight gynae cancers. We provide research grants to Australia’s best and brightest medical brains, so they can find new ways to screen, treat and conquer gynae cancers.
We’re small BUT we punch way above our weight – why? Because we want to look after all our lady parts.
Our research grants will give you, us and your gal pals a fighting chance. Early detection saves lives. Research means early detection.
Visit www.agcf.org.au and donate to save a sister.