Now Heather Hawkins is a member of the Cartherics Board

By Leigh Dayton  9 June 2022

It’s official. As of this month, ovarian cancer campaigner Heather Hawkins takes up her role as an Advisory Board Member for Cartherics.

“It’s a privilege and an honour to be part of the Board,” she says. “And I’m looking forward to assisting wherever I can to help Cartherics be more successful.”

As CEO Alan Trounson noted in the official invitation to join the Board, what Hawkins brings to Cartherics is extensive.

“As a Member, you will bring both your direct experience with ovarian cancer and your extensive involvement with advocacy groups to provide the Company with extraordinarily valuable insights, together with your motivational skills which we believe will be a wonderful compliment to the team.”

Hawkins began developing her impressive skill set in difficult circumstances. “In February 2007 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and my world and that of my family stood still”, she recalls.

Fortunately, the cancer was caught early, at Stage 1. Within days Hawkins had surgery to remove an 18cm tumour and have a full hysterectomy.

That meant that instead of follow-up chemotherapy and the side effects it causes, Hawkins learned she was a “perfect candidate” for a medical surveillance program involving regular blood tests and scans. “Fortunately, 15 years later, my cancer has not returned.”

Sadly, this is not the case for many women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The five-year survival rate is only 48%. As Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA) notes, every day in Australia, five women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from the disease.

“As a survivor, I long to see the statistics for survival improve”, says Hawkins, who is impressed with Cartherics’ research program.

“Cartherics offers a treatment empowering the body to fight the disease,” she says of the affordable off-the-shelf immune therapies the company is developing.

“It will be a wonderful moment when clinical trials begin,” adds Hawkins.

Meanwhile, Hawkins strives to help other women diagnosed with ovarian cancer understand the diagnostic, treatment and, hopefully, recovery processes.

“It’s deeply affecting to see and hear from somebody who’s been through a cancer diagnosis,” says Hawkins, adding that she hopes that, as Trounson wrote, a personal connection will inform the Cartherics team.

While she works with advocacy groups such as OCA to raise awareness of the disease and fundraise for support services, Hawkins continues her own post-cancer journey.

Running is now a big part of her life. In her book ‘Adventurous Spirit’ Hawkins describes the marathons, ultramarathons and adventures in extraordinary environments like Nepal, The Geographic North Pole, Antarctica, and Chile’s Atacama Desert.

“I’ll never take health for granted again after my encounter with cancer,” she says firmly. “I’m looking to the future, particularly with treatments like Cartherics’ which will bring significant, positive change – saving and improving the lives of women all around the world.”

Hawkins concludes: “Meaning a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily the end. That there is hope”.