It all happened at Cape Schanck ……

By Leigh Dayton

24 February 2021

2020 was a rough year everywhere for everyone, including Cartherics’ hard-working team. By way of a thank you CEO Alan Trounson, Chairman Bob Moses and Chief Operating Officer Ian Nisbet hosted a company come-one come-all event this month at the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria’s Cape Schanck Resort.

“The Cartherics team were phenomenal in their capacity to keep the R&D program going at full pace despite the lockdown and barriers erected to control the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Trounson. “They worked at full productivity from home offices and also reorganised the lab work program to keep the research at full pace achieving all the milestones we had hoped for”.

“Individuals stood up in leadership and the team embraced students, new appointments and each other in an extraordinary feat of accomplishment. We needed to recognise and celebrate their achievements which we did.”

“Thanks to Karen, Ian, Vera and Nick for organising this very special event.”

The theme for Cartherics MMXXI was “Venimus, Vidimus Vincemus” – “We Came, We Saw, We Conquered”.  For two half days, Cartherics’ scientists, administrators, advisors and managers enjoyed fine food, fun, team building activities (with Roman team names) and a gala dinner, not to mention an inspiring talk by ovarian cancer survivor, adventurer and author Heather Hawkins.

The choice of a February date with Heather Hawkins as the “motivational speaker” guaranteed the event was a winning trifecta: Hawkins, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and Cartherics

Heather Hawkins was diagnosed with Stage One ovarian cancer at 41. She survived the surgery and chemotherapy. Then at 47 she pulled on an old pair of shorts and runners and struggled to the end of a 4km Mothers’ Day event, The run was the first in a long line of achievements, including her 2017 book Adventurous Spirit.

In her presentation, Hawkins reminded everyone that February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. To boost support for the month-long campaign, applaud Cartherics’ cancer-fighting efforts and “help raise awareness and save lives”, Hawkins reflected on her “journey” of diagnosis and treatment.

She also revealed how the journey kindled her desire to learn from her experience and inspired her new-found quest to raise funds for cancer research. Hawkins picked up on the Venimus, Vidimus, Vincemus theme, extending it to “We Came, We Saw, We Will Conquer, We Will Thrive”.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Since 2001 when February was designated Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, the sponsoring organisation, Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA), has worked to promote research and support women with the life-threatening condition. This month the group was delighted to report that 20 years of improving support and awareness for ovarian cancer and making incremental progress in care and treatment.

“Researchers are confident we have never been closer to a breakthrough. If we can maintain this momentum, it won’t be long before more women survive ovarian cancer beyond 5 years than not.”

In recognition of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on 16 February that the Government will provide $1 million to OCA “for their work supporting those living with ovarian cancer”. The funding will go to the organisation’s Teal Support Program.

Throughout 2020 the dedicated Cartherics team juggled COVID-19 lockdowns to continue their work developing accessible ‘off-the-shelf’ immunotherapies to fight aggressive forms of cancers like relapsed ovarian cancer.  Some of the staff had not seen each other outside Zoom for 9 months, and a number had never met their newer colleagues in person until the event.

Given the hurdles, the special event was more than welcome.  It was a winner!