Jeanie Ferris Cancer Australia Award
On the 26th of June 2020 two exceptional members of our low-grade serous ovarian cancer community received national recognition for their outstanding contribution to gynaecological cancers. We are thrilled by that their incredible efforts have been recognised. The Members of the Community category was awarded to Kristen Larsen and the Health Professionals and Researchers category to Professor Anna DeFazio. The award is made by Cancer Australia in memory of the late Jeannie Ferris late Jeannie Ferris, former Senator for South Australia who was passionately committed to raising awareness about gynaecological cancer in Australia.
Kristen passionately and continuously advocated and fundraised for ovarian cancer – particularly low-grade serous research with her Living Legacy. We are incredibly grateful to her sister Elsa who continues to honour Kristen’s memory and legacy.
At the age of 21, Kristen’s life changed when she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Kristen was living her dream of a working holiday in London and her career as a HR professional was just taking off. Despite enduring continuous medical treatments and surgeries, Kristen dedicated the remaining six years of her life to raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer. She shared her story with charities across Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
Volunteering her time as guest speaker at over fifty fundraising engagements, symposiums and media opportunities, Kristen also attended eleven Australian and international conferences between 2015 and 2019. Kristen connected with a network of “teal sisters” and raised awareness on a global scale. Kristen’s involvement with American and Canadian charities brought the American program Survivors Teaching Students (STS) to Australia, where she became the Brisbane Regional Coordinator. In 2018, Kristen’s submission for ‘Ovarshare’ won her the nation-wide podcast competition Podquest. Backed by Nova Entertainment, Kristen produced her own podcast – a six episode series where she shared stories of young women with ovarian cancer to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms.
In 2018, Kristen also participated in political advocacy training in Washington D.C and spoke about her personal cancer fight, addressing political leaders at Capitol Hill and requesting more funding for ovarian cancer. At Ovarian Cancer Australia’s Annual Parliamentary Breakfast in February 2019, Kristen addressed Australia’s political leaders, including the Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison, the Health Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt and the former leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Bill Shorten. Kristen was instrumental in gaining $35 million in government funding going towards ovarian cancer prevention, early detection, treatments and clinical trials.
As the face of many campaigns and fundraisers, Kristen appeared across television, print, radio and online media with her story collectively raising millions of dollars benefiting cancer charities. Kristen happily accepted to participate in the first Bonds ‘Overies for Ovaries’ campaign, featuring on billboards across Australia.
Kristen’s extensive volunteer efforts were recognised as a Young Australian of the Year 2019 finalist for Queensland.
Kristen Freya Larsen passed away on the 9th of December at age 27.
Kristen’s wish was that her story could live on and continue to make a difference to ovarian cancer research, even after her death. Shortly before she died, Kristen established a fundraising page, “Kristen’s Living Legacy”, to inspire others to donate and continue fundraising in her honour.
Kristen’s legacy will continue to influence women and their families for years to come.
Professor Anna deFazio
Professor Anna deFazio is one of Australia’s leading translational ovarian cancer researchers. She has a strong interest in low-grade serous carcinoma and is committed to improving outcomes for women through local and international research collaborations; and clinical trials. This acknowledgement of Prof DeFazio’s work is a testament to the importance of Cure Our Ovarian Cancer so that we may continue to fund ground breaking research.
We cannot think of more worthy recipients. View the official announcement.