Ovarian Cancer | SPEECH


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 17:35 :25 ): I take this opportunity to advise the house of an absolutely outstanding fundraiser run in Kapunda recently. It was a community fundraiser to raise money to contribute towards finding a cure for ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but I was able to contribute in another way, and I would like to acknowledge the people from the local community who organised this event. It was extremely well organised, extremely well attended and extremely generously supported. In fact, they raised $52,000 on the night towards finding a cure for and the prevention of ovarian cancer.

I would like to particularly acknowledge the Davidson family from Kapunda, who were very involved in organising and running the night. They were not the only people who did this, but they were certainly central to it. The Davidson family has firsthand experience of ovarian cancer, but it is very important to acknowledge that it was a broad community event. More recently, Ovarian Cancer Australia came to Parliament House, and members from both sides of this chamber, as well as from other parties and some staff, attended a briefing where we all learned a lot about ovarian cancer.

We came with differing levels of knowledge to begin with, but even people who knew more than others learned a lot that day. Probably the most important message for me to take away from that briefing was the positive and the negative that come from the fact that it is possible to identify whether or not a person has the gene that could well lead to that person contracting ovarian cancer. In fact, the reality is that the gene can be passed on from generation to generation, but not only by women. Of course, only women can contract ovarian cancer, but the chance of contracting ovarian cancer can be passed on from generation to generation by both men and women.

All health is personal, but it is patently obvious that diseases and health challenges that affect only men or only women very often become more personal and more difficult to deal with because they are not talked about quite as broadly throughout the community as diseases that affect both men and women. Another interesting feature certainly for me to learn was that one of the great dangers of ovarian cancer is that the symptoms do not necessarily become apparent to the person who has the cancer until the cancer is very well established in the person’s body, which is very unfortunate.

Without some sort of genetic testing, often no early detection is available to a person who thinks that they might in all other ways be in good health. That makes that genetic testing even more important because, if there is a history of ovarian cancer in a family, then subsequent generations really do need to be tested, whether or not they have the cancer and whether they are male or female, because they can still pass it on. That then brings us to another very difficult aspect of this cancer. If you find out that you or your partner have the gene, what do you do then with regard to your own personal health and family planning? For obvious reasons that I do not need to go into at the moment, it becomes a very difficult, very sensitive and very challenging issue for people to deal with.

I would like to particularly thank the Davidson family again for coming and joining us in Parliament House that day and sharing their insights with people. We were joined by Annette and Graham and also Megan and Brent. Megan actually addressed the group of MPs and staff who were assembled and shared her very personal story in a positive, clear, well thought out and well‑presented way. We heard firsthand, in a really constructive way, how ovarian cancer has affected her family. Also, very importantly, she gave us the information that we needed so that we, as members of parliament, could go about our work constructively contributing to helping the medical profession find ways of dealing with this very important and very invasive disease.

I urge all members of the South Australian parliament to do exactly that: contribute through your work as local MPs, whether through government or opposition, to support medical science find a cure for ovarian cancer, because it is a very important cancer that needs to be dealt with. By virtue of the fact that we can these days test for the gene that carries this cancer, we have a leg in the door already. As members of parliament, please use your efforts in whatever way you can to do exactly that.