10 Years Later: An ovarian cancer survivor looks back at attending SGO for the first time

By Annie Ellis

As I prepare to attend the 2018 annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), I’ve been thinking about the first time I attended in 2008 along with a group of survivors led by Linda Koteen, SHARE’s Ovarian Program Director at the time. We were excited and humbled to be the first survivors to speak during a plenary session. Our presentation on the collective patient perspective included a display of photographs of ovarian cancer survivors from all over the country, and a few outside the US--we wanted to bring everyone on stage with us. The presentation was extremely moving and well received by the doctors.

Back then, I was newly in third remission, participating in a phase I remission vaccine clinical trial and my hair was in the early stages of growing back for the second time. Attending scientific sessions was a little overwhelming as I searched for the best treatment options for my next recurrence. I barely understood anything, but the open dialogue and sharing of knowledge on the latest research from experts from all over the world inspired me to learn more about this complicated disease. Since then I have had many opportunities to serve the ovarian cancer community as a research advocate.

Recently I watched the video of the SHARE presentation and I can’t help but think about how much has changed.

Yet, too much remains the same and our survivorship presentation from 2008 is just as relevant today as it was 10 years ago.

  • Early detection remains elusive and we do not have a reliable screening tool—that needs to change.  
  • Although many women managing recurrent or chronic ovarian cancer are living longer, most women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will experience a recurrence—that needs to change.
  • Therapy resistance continues to be an issue—that needs to change.
  • Too many women still struggle with neuropathy and other long-term side effects—that needs to change.
  • And too many women with ovarian cancer die—that needs to change!

I look forward to attending this year’s SGO and learning about the latest research from the women and men who have worked hard to bring about advances in ovarian cancer treatment and survivorship these last 10 years.  And to let them know that we are all counting on them to continue the efforts to bring about the changes so desperately needed.

SHARE’s current Ovarian Cancer Program Director, Stephanie Blaufarb, will be exhibiting at SGO this year. Please stop by SHARE’s booth if you will be at the conference. Annie and Stephanie will be covering the 2018 SGO conference on Facebook Live, so stay tuned to SHARE’s Facebook page March 22-March 27 for live updates.

SHARE Presenters: Lorraine Bajada, Judi Gordon, Joan Sommer, Carmen Diaz and Annie Ellis

Linda Koteen, Annie Ellis and Joan Sommer ready to rumble!

Fight Night Poster