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Dr. Huntsman: “It’s an absence of a story that we want to create”

September 22, 2017

I was truly inspired by the outpouring of support at Hope Couture this week, where over $600,000 was raised for research into the prevention of ovarian cancer, specifically for the Ovarian Cancer Research (OVCARE) program.

 The London-themed luncheon reminded me of the very humble beginnings of OVCARE. What is now a world-leading, multi-disciplinary and multi-institution research group began at a Chinese restaurant over a decade ago thanks to the single-minded determination of Dr. Dianne Miller, our clinical leader.

But OVCARE's rapid evolution from an idea of a team to one of the top three research groups studying these cancers in the world would not have been possible without the generous support of the BC Cancer Foundation and other funding sources. Philanthropy provided us the seed funding necessary to get our research off the ground and start projects that would have been viewed as too risky for traditional funding organizations.

When our research proved successful, we were then able to leverage those funds to support further breakthroughs in ovarian cancer research.

One of the most compelling ways of illustrating the success of research is to see it translated into patient success stories. But I hope our largest legacy will be thousands of cancer stories in BC and around that never happen due to our prevention research.

If a woman is prevented from getting ovarian cancer, she will never know she is at risk. She will never associate herself with this disease or lose a night’s sleep over it. It won’t be a story. It’s an absence of a story that we want to create.

This happens by focusing our research on creating a prevention toolbox gynecologic cancers. So far, included in that toolbox are life-saving tools made possible in part because of research conducted by OVCARE – the opportunistic removal of fallopian tubes for women undergoing hysterectomy or tubal ligation, and hereditary testing for all women diagnosed with high-grade serous ovarian cancer. These are being combined with research to increase the impact of vaccination for cancer of the cervix prevention.

And now, thanks to the generosity displayed this week at Hope Couture, we will be able to expand that tool box to include endometrioid  and clear cell ovarian carcinoma – the second and third most common types of this disease.

Our goal is to reduce incidences of ovarian cancer by 50 per cent by 2030. Ultimately, we want to create a population of women who never knew they were at risk in the first place.

But we can’t do this alone. Indeed, we consider ourselves a partnership, not only across research facilities but with our community of donors. We are grateful to them for helping make this ultimate goal of an ovarian cancer-free world a reality for women in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Huntsman