Loraine Peck is an author and an ovarian cancer survivor.
She started her career as a portrait painter and magician’s assistant in Sydney. After being sawn-in-half one too many times, Loraine switched to dealing blackjack on the Gold Coast. Bartending and slinging lobsters in the US led to a sales job in the movie industry, before she was propelled into a career in marketing for the retail and property industries in Australia, the Middle East, Asia and the US.
Consumed by a desire to write crime thrillers, Loraine decided to learn how to write the kind of book she loves to read.
Her first novel, The Second Son, won the 2021 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Fiction from the Australian Crime Writers Association. She is hard at work on the sequel.
Loraine was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2016 and her prognosis puts her in the lucky minority. After gaining an understanding of the high mortality rate for women diagnosed with gynaecological cancers, she knew she had to do what she could to help procure better funding for research and help bring the mortality rate down. She joined the Board of the AGCF in 2017.
Annabel Sullivan provides the AGCF with a unique perspective. Together with her sister, Sophie, and brother, Cormac, Annabel lost her mother, Cindy Sullivan, to cervical cancer in early 2017. Annabel decided to use her grief in a positive way and, together with the rest of her family, got behind the AGCF’s annual race day.
The Cindy Sullivan Memorial Race Day was born and was a huge success with 660 people attending at Royal Randwick. Through the generosity of the Annabel, her family and those who attended, $180,000 was raised. This will result in a research grant, another Brilliant Mind, focused on finding better treatments and cures for gynae cancers.
Annabel is and Account Manager at Houzz Australia, the world’s largest community for home design and renovation. She is an American Citizen and would love to eventually work in New York as it is her mother’s home town and her favorite place in the world. Her passions include art, fashion and travel, event management & customer relations.
BBiolSc (hons), PhD
Dr Dane Cheasley BSc (1 st Class Hons), PhD is a Senior Research Scientist within the Women’s Cancer Program at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Victoria. After completing his PhD through Latrobe University, investigating the role in intestinal stem cells in colon cancer, Dr Cheasley continued his interest in colon cancer research and started his first post-doctoral research position at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research.
Dr Cheasley then decided to take his skills and apply this to women’s cancer research and undertook his second post-doctoral research position at the Peter Mac, now under the supervision of Professor Ian Campbell (head of the Cancer Genetics Lab), as Peter Mac was establishing the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and positioning itself as a world leader in translational cancer research, patient care and clinical trials, which placed Dr Cheasley in the best place to make a vital contribution to translational women’s cancer research.
Dr Cheasley now leads his own research team within the Campbell laboratory, with a focus on using genome-wide technologies to answer clinical and biological questions in rare and understudied ovarian cancers. Dr Cheasley has had an excellent success rate in generating independent funding to support his ovarian cancer research, which included the very first Australian Gynaecological Research Foundation research fellowship awarded.
My name is Rhianna Etheridge, I am a Records and Information Management Specialist (and part-time Digital Illustrator in my “spare” time) based in South Australia and I am a 36-year-old cervical cancer survivor. Had it not been for a routine PAP test prior to starting IVF, I may not have discovered my cancer until much later and with a far less positive outcome. I displayed no physical symptoms of cervical cancer and even though it was caught very early, Stage 1B, I still required a hysterectomy after several minor surgical options failed to return clear margins, I also went through a round of radiotherapy post-op for the lowest possible rate of recurrence.
If not for the humble PAP test, I may have ended up in a very different situation and I will be forever grateful to the science and research that has gone into developing and refining the detection tools for cervical cancer, and the Guardasil vaccine. As someone who has been lucky enough to come out the bright end of the cancer tunnel I am absolutely honoured and humbled to be working with AGCF to advocate and raise awareness for all 8 types of gynaecological cancer so that one day, my daughter (arriving January 2023 via surrogate) might grow up in a world where early detection and treatment of these cancers is commonplace and all women have the opportunity at the positive prognosis we all hope for as cancer warriors.
My name is Alexandria Nivelle Mekanna, currently a PhD student at School of Science at Western Sydney University. I hold a Master of Science in food safety and quality management and a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics. The master’s study was recently published entitled “Occurrence and exposure to glyphosate present in bread and flour products in Lebanon.”
I worked in both fields of food safety and dietetics overseas for almost 4 years, in private clinics for dietetics consultations and as food safety team leader for several companies. I used to go on live TV and radio overseas to discuss nutritional and food safety topics, with one time too having an interview with a magazine to discuss a nutritional topic entitled “anorexia nervosa”. I also volunteered overseas for several organisations to teach community members about nutritional and food safety topics.
I was named after two Professors that gave me a miraculous birth Alex Crandon and Neville Hacker.
When I was 13 Professor Hacker saved my life and performed a surgery to remove a 3.5 kg tumour on my ovary. The tumour had been misdiagnosed a very long time and it had ruptured spreading throughout my abdomen. Causing many future complications and many more surgeries. Not only did Prof save my life but the surgery he performed allowed me the opportunity to have our two perfect boys (hopefully many more to come), most would have carried out a complete hysterectomy. Having children is the only thing I’ve ever wanted in my life so this would have destroyed me.
If there was a screening test for ovarian cancer my years of many surgeries, fertility issues and medical complications may have been avoided. I am thrilled to be able to support and assist my hero Prof Hacker in any way I can to achieve this goal not just for him but for all women.
RN, RM, MN, NP
Leonie completed her Registered Nursing training at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Camperdown in 1986 and her Midwifery in 1991 at St Margaret’s Hospital, Darlinghurst.
Following completion of the Master of Nursing, Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of Newcastle in 2006, Leonie accepted the position of Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health in Condobolin, where she has been based in Community Health for 20 years.
Leonie has been an employee of NSW Health for almost 40 years and applies advanced nursing practice to the areas of clinical gynaecology and general Women’s Health. Leonie’s goal is to improve health outcomes across a broad range of health presentations for women living in rural communities with high Aboriginal populations in Western N.S.W
Leonie directs her care to women of lower socioeconomic groups and those women who are our most vulnerable. Her dedication to open communication and transparency, is evident in the successful patient and collegial relationships she has maintained over many years in the interest of improving health outcomes for her patients.
Leonie’s work as a Nurse Practitioner for the past 15 years has provided the communities of Orange and surrounding rural and remote villages with a sustainable service in colposcopy that has been recognised internationally. In partnership with the Rural Doctor’s Network, Orange Aboriginal Medical Service and Dr Mick Campion from the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick, this Nurse led colposcopy/Gynaecology clinic has been running successfully for 10 years and has been the recipient of a number of Health Industry awards.
Michelle Bishop is an experienced sports journalist and presenter for Seven News based in Sydney.
She started her career in breakfast radio presenting news on Penrith’s 96.1 FM when she was just 19-years-old. After studying a Bachelor of Communications she quickly secured a cadetship in the newsroom at 2WS.
Her first job in television was at Seven News where she worked as a producer and junior reporter on the long running sport flag ship program Sportsworld hosted then by the legendary Bruce McAvaney.
Her passion for radio and live sport saw her become the first female on Macquarie radio network’s Continuous Call Team, covering live Rugby League updates as an around-the-grounds reporter. Macquarie radio were so impressed she secured a position as 2GB’s afternoon sport anchor and filled in as the sports reader during the Alan Jones Show.
‘Shell’ has presented Foxsports news and feature stories for the Rugby League program Super Saturday.
In 2014, Michelle returned to the Seven Network as a full time sports reporter and quickly established herself as a leading journalist.
Her career to date has seen her cover everything from grass roots Rugby League to Racing. She has covered some of the biggest sporting events in history; Sydney’s 2000 Olympic Games, 2000 Paralympic Games, The Everest, Rugby Union World Cup and the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Shell has a unique ability to connect with the audience by bringing out the best in her interviews. One such example was when Australian cricket captain Steve Smith opened up during a press conference on the very real side of the ball-tampering scandal after her open and honest question.
Michelle was also a key member of the “road to the championships” which aired on Sky Channel throughout the autumn racing carnival. She will assume her position again during the upcoming series of “Road to Everest, Australian richest race on turf”
When not at work she’s at her home on Sydney’s Central Coast with her husband Justin, three boys Jack, Lachlan and Blake and their two dogs, Gallon (as in Paul Gallon) and Charlie-Bubbles. And running the Keeper’s Watch Café at Norah Head Lighthouse.
Ellen Barlow is a Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Gynaecological Cancer Centre at the Royal Hospital for Women, where she has worked for the last 21 years. She has a Master of Nursing (MN) from the University of New England and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of New South Wales.
Ellen’s PhD research focused on vulvar cancer. She identified trends in the incidence and mortality of vulvar cancer in Australia over the past 30 years for the first time, and studied the medical records of over 400 women treated for vulvar cancer at the Royal Hospital for Women during the same time frame. She was able to identify risk factors for physical and psychosexual morbidity in these women following treatment and make recommendations for reducing this morbidity. She was also able to identify risk factors for recurrence of disease and make recommendations for reducing this risk.
The main focus of Ellen’s clinical role is the coordination of all surgical aspects of patient care. She coordinates a pre-admission for all surgical patients, where a significant component of her time is spent educating and assisting women to deal with a range of issues associated with their surgical treatment. These issues include such complex problems as loss of fertility for premenopausal women if the uterus has to be removed, the induction of premature menopause if the ovaries have to be removed, and change of body image commonly associated with vulvar surgery. Ellen follows the patients in the ward postoperatively, and after discharge. Her particular focus is on assisting women with gynaecological cancer in the prevention, or minimisation of treatment related side effects.
R.N, Onc Cert, B.N, Grad Cert HRM, MBA, FACN, MAICD
Yvonne McKinlay R.N, Onc Cert, B.N, Grad Cert HRM, MBA, FACN, MAICD completed her nurse training in 1985 and specialised in Oncology Nursing where she worked at the Christie Hospital in Manchester and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London before emigrating to Australia. Yvonne has had over 25 years’ experience in management roles. She has held both operational and strategic management roles in the Public Health sector and in Private Practice.
In 2017 as a Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing (FACN), Yvonne attended the book launch for “Mistress of her Profession – Colonial Midwives of Sydney” and met Professor Neville Hacker. As they say the rest is history… it reignited Yvonne’s desire to make a difference. Yvonne still works fulltime however is committed to helping the AGCF reach its goal of funding ten grants per year to fund a “Brilliant Mind.”
Yvonne has been touched personally and professionally by the impact that Gynaecological cancers can have on individuals and their families. Yvonne’s auntie died of Ovarian cancer, and then in 2013 within the space of three months two people Yvonne knew died from Ovarian cancer. Although Yvonne was no longer working in the Oncology field, it brought to the fore that the improvement in five-year survival rate for gynae cancers had not improved significantly since Yvonne nursed her first cancer patient in 1985.
Yvonne joined the AGCF as a volunteer in 2018 initially as the Grants Manager and has now moved to a volunteer role as Ambassador.
Maz has spent thirty years at the cutting edge of the crazy world of Media, TV & Movies, so the contacts in her smart phone read like the toilet queue at the Oscars.
She has been to more showbiz parties than Kim Kardashian’s Spanx and down more red carpets than a Dyson vacuum. If you can stick a name plate on it and deliver it to huge applause, she’s won it – BAFTAs, Logies, ASTRAS, Royal Television Society Awards, UK Comedy Awards, Bronze Rose De Montreux, all while leading shows like The X Factor, The Celebrity Apprentice, Dancing With the Stars, Big Brother UK & AU, The Farmer Wants A Wife, and she helped create Q&A for the ABC.
She’s had swish corner offices as Executive Editor of Format Entertainment at the BBC in London, Director of TV Content at Fremantle Media Australia, and Creative Strategist for BBC Worldwide in Australia. Her content has been watched more than eight billion times worldwide and one event she produced created so much social traffic, it broke Twitter.
Maz thinks that because most of the world has spent some time in a vagina, even if it was just passing through, we need to take enormous care of them and everything else in the vicinity, so she’s very excited to be an Ambassador for the AGCF, helping raise the profile of this amazing charity even further.
Maz now uses her strategies for creating compelling content, to help high achieving individuals and large corporations be more creative and fascinating to their audiences. As an MC & leading international keynote speaker, you can expect great celebrity stories, great gossip, but more importantly, great insights and forever skills.
After the recent loss of her beautiful daughter Kayla at age 24, from aggressive vulvar cancer, Kirra Newland is on a mission to promote body awareness to all young girls in Australia. Kirra is advocating for girls and young women to get to know their anatomy through improved health education so they are more aware of their bodies and of any changes that take place.
Kirra is also strongly advocating for doctors to listen closely to young women and girls when they’re describing any body changes, and for doctors to be more aware that gynaecological cancers can occur anywhere in the body, even at very young ages.
Kirra’s daughter tragically died from a vulvar cancer most commonly experienced by older women and, after seeing first-hand the suffering caused by this insidious cancer, Kirra believes that change has to happen.
These rare cancers in young women need improved recognition and treatments, and targeted research. Those affected, young lives lost to gynae cancer, are all someone’s daughter, someone’s mum, sister, niece, cousin and friend. I wish to lobby doctors, parliamentarians, and our health systems, federal and state, to better recognise young girl’s cancers, to remove the stigma of gynae health diagnosis, and reduce the costs of private billing of rare cancer testing processes.
AGCF welcomes Kirra as a proud Ambassador, advocating on Kayla’s behalf, raising awareness and action on the gynae cancers affecting young women and girls, lobbying for reducing vulvar and gynae cancer stigma, and urging increased funding for much needed research, adding years to lives. We thank you Kirra.
The Way In Network
Way In Network was established in 1992 with the aim to build a support network for the migrant women during their settlement in Australia. Over the years, Way In Network has evolved into a well-known and trusted charity organisation amongst the local community with the key objective of raising funds to assist those in need in Australia and overseas.
The current management committee is led by President Annie Tang JP and with Past Presidents Mrs. Florence Chau JP and Ms Linda Tang JP as Honorary Advisors. Members include migrant women from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. Most of our members hold professional positions in industries spanning from banking, finance, accounting, public relations and welfare to the public services. Others operate their own successful businesses in Australia and or overseas, whilst others are homemakers. As an ongoing process, our members continue to assist new female migrants to settle in Sydney.
In 2017 the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (AGCF) formed a partnership with Way In Network to create a new post-doctoral fellowship grant to support a research project aligned with the AGCF priorities. Way In Network has become a proud Ambassador for AGCF
Dr Dane Cheasley from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, was selected as the successful applicant for the AGCF and Way in Network Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award 2017 – AGCF’s first Postdoctoral Fellowship grant.
Dr Cheasley’s research hopes to fill in one of the gaps in the current treatment of ovarian cancer. Despite 200,000 women are diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer world-wide annually and only approximately 40% survive five years, ovarian cancer has for many years been treated as a single disease.
The AGCF’s mission is to raise awareness and fund research for the prevention, detection and treatment of gynaecological cancers in Australia. The Way In Network has been a strong supporter of women’s cancer research, through the AGCF.
My name is Sophie Sullivan, I am the youngest daughter of Cindy Sullivan. Myself, my sister Annabel and my brother Cormac lost our beautiful mother in 2017 to cervical cancer.
Mom was passionate about fundraising and understood the importance of research in combating and preventing gynaecological cancers.
I completed my undergraduate bachelor’s degree in 2022 in Medical Science at Macquarie University. I majored in anatomy and physiology. I am currently working as a credit analyst at Zip Co, who have been great supporters of the AGCF at every fundraiser myself and siblings have put on in memory of our mom.
I am passionate about spreading awareness about the eight gynae cancers and working towards meaningful change in diagnosis and cures.
Kath is an international speaker, author and multiple award recipient, advocating for decades as a voice for women for greater recognition and education of gynaecological/sexual and related mental health through her vision of an International Gynaecological Awareness Day.
Through Kath’s persistence as a gynaecological cancer survivor, she recognised gynaecological health is poorly understood by many professionals and the global community. She works tirelessly to improve the knowledge and attitudes of the medical profession and women’s organisations, so that these issues are not blunted by the affectations of superior knowledge. She has received public recognition for her extraordinary, often solo, efforts to help break down barriers, stigmas and taboos, so women can be heard.
The AGCF team warmly welcomes Phil Gould AM as a proud Ambassador for AGCF.
When asked why he became an Ambassador, Phil said: “It’s an honour to be an Ambassador for AGCF, we all have mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, female friends or family who may be at risk of gynae cancers.”
With the stats of a gynae cancer diagnosed each 2 hours in Australia, chances are we’ll all know someone affected at some stage. It’s important that we all lend support to raise awareness of the gynae cancers and the importance of research to find a cure, helping to save women’s lives. I’m pleased to add my support to AGCF and their research fundraising goals.
Phillip Gould AM, also nicknamed Gus, is an Australian rugby league broadcaster, journalist, administrator and formerly a player and a coach. He works as the General Manager of football for the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in the NRL.
Lawyer, Member CIArb
The AGCF Board is delighted to welcome Steph Hunt to the Ambassador team.
Steph’s drive to serve as an AGCF Ambassador comes from her belief that Australia can play a more significant role in advancing research and awareness surrounding gynaecological cancers. She envisions a future where improved screening tests across all 8 gynae cancers contribute to higher survival rates, benefiting all who are affected by these cancers worldwide. Steph’s passion and expertise position her as a valuable advocate in the AGCF’s pursuit of transformative change, and breakthrough research, building hope for women of all ages.
With over a decade of experience in litigation and international dispute settlement, Steph brings a wealth of expertise to the AGCF. Her professional journey spans both the private and public sectors, where she has provided legal advice to corporations and the Australian Government. Notably, Steph has served as a legal adviser in the Foreign Affairs portfolio, showcasing her commitment to making a global impact.
Fluent in French, Spanish and Mandarin, Steph possesses valuable language capabilities that enhance her ability to navigate diverse contexts. Her dedication to leveraging legal, policy, and negotiation skills underscores her commitment to supporting the AGCF’s mission.
We are the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation. The only organisation that focuses on funding laboratory research into all eight gynae cancers.
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