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We celebrate the life of Carmen Duncan

Carmen Duncan was a beloved mother, grandmother and sister. She bravely fought and survived breast cancer, bowel cancer and thyroid cancer. Unfortunately on February 3rd 2019, she died of vaginal cancer – a rare cancer that affects only 1% of the community. 

Carmen loved life so much. In 1961, she graduated from the National Institute for the Dramatic Arts (NIDA) and went on to have a stellar career in film, television and on stage, spanning more than 50 years. In 1980, Carmen was nominated for the AFI Award for Best Actress for the film Harlequin. Other films included, Don’t Let It Get to You, Touch and Go, and Turkey Shoot. As recently as 2018, she had a role in the film Hotel Mumbai. For several years she was the Treasurer for Actors Equity.

Her greatest acting success was on television. In Australia Carmen had roles in many series, including Hunter, Number 96, Certain Women, Skyways, A Country Practice, Division 4, and Homicide. In the mid-1980s, Carmen moved to the United States where she again had great success. She won a leading role in the daytime soap opera Another World, which she played between 1988 and 1994.

On returning to Australia, Carmen became an active advocate for charity. In 2006, she accepted the role of CEO of the GO (Gynaecology Oncology) Fund, a sub-entity of the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation. In this capacity she helped raise nearly $2 million for research into gynaecological cancers. When that Fund ceased active fundraising and the AGCF was formed in 2015, Carmen became an Ambassador and was a wonderful advocate for women suffering from gynaecological cancer.

Carmen always maintained a positive attitude, which helped her to survive breast, bowel and thyroid cancer. Sadly she eventually died of vaginal cancer in 2019, a rare gynaecological cancer. 

Carmen was much loved and highly respected by all who had the pleasure of knowing her. She was a beautiful woman, both on the inside and the outside. She was very intelligent, committed and hardworking, and had a warm and engaging personality. She was a devoted and caring mother, grandmother, and sister. Her greatest pleasure came from being with her three grandchildren.

Her sister Paula Duncan AM has now joined the AGCF as an Ambassador in the hopes of continuing Carmen’s work and legacy, and helping to do more research into the cause, effect and hopefully cure of these horrible diseases. She remembers her sister as a woman who “looked after her well-being and loved her family and children with all her heart. I want to remember and treasure her life and help other women.”

Carmen’s daughter Amelia remembers her mum as someone who “never faltered on doing her damnedest to provide anything we wanted or needed. Her presence was omniscient. Even when miles away, she knew what you were doing and when you would need her.”

Vale, Carmen Duncan.