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.
Marie Ficarra OAM has served her community in elected office, corporate and philanthropic roles over more than 4 decades. Marie holds a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours. Following her graduation she became a Senior Tutor at the University in Histology and Physiology and worked in her early career as a scientist investigating children’s muscular dystrophy. She went on to have a successful corporate career including becoming NSW Manager for Hoechst Australia (Pharmaceuticals) & Behring Diagnostics.
Marie was elected to Hurstville City Council in 1979 and became Mayor serving with distinction for 16 years.
In 1995 Marie was elected to the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Assembly as the Member for Georges River and served until 1999, with promotion to Shadow Minister for the Environment.
Passionate about improving Women’s Cancer research and management, she become the General Manager of Cytyc Australia, the company that introduced the gold standard cytological screening test for Cervical Cancer.
in March 2007 Marie elected to the Legislative Council of the NSW Parliament, making her the first woman in NSW to serve in the Legislative Assembly, then the Legislative Council. She is the first woman in the Liberal Party of NSW to ever serve in both Houses. In March 2011, Marie was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier.
Marie has participated in many Parliamentary Committees and inquiries, including the demanding role of Chair, General Purpose Standing Committee Number 2. This involved overseeing expenditure, performance and effectiveness of Government Departments and portfolios including Health and Medical Research, Education, Mental Health, Ageing, Aboriginal Affairs, Disability Services, Family and Community Services, Women, Citizenship and Communities, Western NSW, and Sports and Recreation.
Over the years, Marie has also served as
Marie works tirelessly with her husband Dr Alan Carless to raise money and establish sound finances and governance for AGCF. Since joining the team, her efforts in organising successful fundraising events have outshone all others.
Kate lost her beautiful mother, Annette, to endometrial cancer in 2019.
Together with her brother Luke, she recognised the lack of funding, awareness and the high mortality rate of women diagnosed with gynaecological cancer.
Introduced to the AGCF by a fellow Ambassador, she joined in the hope to find a cure and help others in the same position.
Kate is a Senior Portfolio Manager at Octopus Australia – a subsidiary of Octopus Group, one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy.
She is responsible for overseeing the asset management business, with a focus on contract execution and delivery, portfolio management, financial analysis and reporting.
In addition to her role in the asset management team, she leads Octopus’ ESG and Impact strategy across the business and its investments and is a member of Octopus’ ESG.
The Way In Network
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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