New Woman to Woman Sites
OCRFA is proud to announce our newest Woman to Woman sites:
- Cancer Advocacy Resources Education (C.A.R.E.) in Melbourne, FL
- Cancer Support Community and Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH
- Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, NC
- St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital in Jackson, MS
- Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare in Tallahassee, FL
- University Hospital in Newark, NJ
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, AR
Woman to Woman Online
Over the past seven years, OCRFA has worked to expand Woman to Woman to 37 sites across the country in order to connect gynecologic cancer survivors and patients. In an effort to reach women regardless of their geographic location, we are adding a “virtual” component to the program. Now, if a newly-diagnosed patient would like to talk with a mentor but doesn’t live near one of our current program sites, we can introduce that patient to a trained Woman to Woman mentor via email or phone.
Women who want to be matched fill out a form on the Woman to Woman website, so we are able to get to know them better. We then match the patient with a trained Woman to Woman mentor who is located at one of our hospital or community-based sites. Like our physical sites, Woman to Woman Online aims to match women based on their availability, interests, and preferences.
While Woman to Woman will continue to expand the number of physical sites across the country because of the invaluable experience it provides to patients and mentors, OCRFA is excited to offer this additional service so that women anywhere can get the support they need.
If you are a Woman to Woman mentor who would like to volunteer to talk to women seeking support through Woman to Woman online, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woman to Woman at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer
It’s an exciting time for ovarian cancer research! Ovarian cancer clinicians, researchers and advocates came together in New Orleans at the end of March for the Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, hosted by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. Meeting attendees learned about the latest developments in ovarian cancer research, treatment, and survivorship.
OCRFA attended the meeting, and two of our survivor-advocates, Annie Ellis and Susan Leighton, wrote up a report highlighting some of the important research presented, including clinical trial results, quality of life and survivorship data, health disparities, and rare cancers.
OCRFA Hosts the Ovarian Cancer National Conference in Washington, DC
This year, the National Conference will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, DC from July 13-July 15. Join us for what is truly a can’t miss event for the ovarian cancer community: a weekend of hope, inspiration, new found knowledge and sisterhood! Choose from dozens of plenary and breakout sessions to create a personalized agenda, and meet hundreds of others whose lives have been touched by ovarian cancer—and form lifelong bonds with those who have walked in your shoes.
If you are interested in attending or sponsoring, please visit OCRFA’s National Conference website for more information, and to register!
Woman to Woman Researcher of the Year
For the past few years, Woman to Woman has featured an exemplary researcher who embodies the kind of hard work, dedication, and progress OCRFA is proud to support. Sherry Wu, PhD is a two-time OCRFA grantee: she was awarded the Ann and Sol Schreiber Mentored Investigator Award in 2011 while at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Liz Tilberis Early Career Award in 2016. As she begins her final year of the Liz Tilberis Award, she starts a new chapter in her life at the University of Queensland in Australia. We asked Dr. Wu about the journey that led her to become the head of her own cancer research laboratory.
OCRFA: Tell us about yourself.
Sherry Wu: I am a registered pharmacist and an ovarian cancer researcher at the University of Queensland (UQ) and MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC). I completed my research training in the field of cancer nanomedicine at UQ in 2010. I then undertook postdoctoral training in translational cancer research through TRIUMPH (Translational Research in Multi-disciplinary Program) at MDACC. I now lead an independent ovarian cancer laboratory, focusing on developing new strategies to enhance the efficacy of immune therapies for treatment of ovarian cancer.
OCRFA: Did you always want to be a scientist?
SW: Actually, yes, since I was a kid! At first I wanted to be a chemist. I always got very excited before my science class at school, mainly because I’d get to play with cool stuff in the lab. It was during the summer of 2002 that I really learned what medical research is all about. I was a 2nd year undergraduate student, working on a project looking at ways to enhance the stability and absorption of a potential new pain medication. I found it fascinating that we can go to the lab and test our own hypothesis and ideas and create new knowledge. The experience instilled in me a desire to pursue a career in medical research. Gradually, through my PhD training, I learned a lot more about cancer and ways that we can find better treatment options for this disease.
OCRFA: What motivated you to focus on ovarian cancer research?
SW: The TRIUMPH translational research program at MDACC has helped become a well-rounded cancer researcher. In addition to research, the program provided me with the opportunity to observe in the clinic and interact with cancer patients. My interaction with ovarian cancer patients has had a tremendous effect on my decision to focus my research on ovarian cancer, and they continue to motivate me.
OCRFA: What does your OCRFA funded project focus on?
SW: My OCRFA funded project focuses on finding new strategies to enhance efficacy of immune therapy in ovarian cancer. Immunotherapy is a promising strategy to achieve complete eradication of cancer cells in the body. While it has proven to be effective for treatment of other types of cancer, its full potential for treatment of ovarian cancer is yet to be seen. In this project, I am testing if I could use a naturally occurring molecule that has the ability to switch off unwanted genes efficiently, to make the tumor microenvironment less hostile to “good” immune cells. I hope we decrease recurrence by enhancing the ability of these cells to eradicate residual tumors following standard therapy. This project would not have been possible without the support from OCRFA.
OCRFA: What do you like best about your career as a scientist?
SW: I love having my own idea and design the experiments to test out my own hypothesis. I get to think outside of the box, and I learn and discover pretty much every day, even when things don’t work. I also really enjoy training the next generation of young scientists, and helping them enjoy the process of discovery and understand what it takes to develop new therapy for cancer patients.
Sherry Wu’s grant was made possible by a generous donation from Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, in memory of Vicki Borne.
On Capitol Hill with Chad Ramsey
On March 5-6, OCRFA hosted our annual Spring Advocacy Day. This year, the event attracted more than 70 survivors and advocates who made their way to Washington DC from 36 states. The group attended an all-day training seminar on Monday developed by the OCRFA Policy staff. President and CEO Audra Moran kicked off the event which educated attendees about OCRFA legislative priorities, taught them effective ways to tell their stories, provided tips on how to best-use social media platforms, and gave a 360 degree review of all the ways OCRFA is working to advance the cause.
This year OCRFA is working to increase the appropriation for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program within the Department of Defense from $20 million to $30 million. We are also working to increase funding to the National Institute of Health by more than $2 billion along with a commensurate increase at the National Cancer Institute. Additionally, we will work to maintain funding for two critical ovarian cancer programs at the Centers for Disease Control.
On Tuesday, the group took to Capitol Hill for nearly 100 meetings with legislative staff on both the Senate and House sides. Initial reports indicate that the meetings were very successful. Some of our Advocate Leaders have become so close to their legislators that they walked out of committee hearings to meet with them. Highlights of the day include a commitment from Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) to introduce a reauthorization of Johanna’s Law this year, and an agreement by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) to lead an effort to insert appropriations language to address declining participation rates in gynecologic clinical trials.