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Reaching out to raise awareness

A WARRACKNABEAL man and his daughter are advocating  to increase awareness and raise funds for ovarian cancer.

During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month this February, John Butcher and daughter Sarah Ludowyk are pushing to raise funds and awareness for research into the disease which figures show claims the lives of over 1,000 Australians a year.   

John and his family were taken aback after learning there was no funding available for ovarian cancer research when wife and mother of five Marilyn “Maz” Butcher was diagnosed back in 2014.

They ceased administering chemotherapy early 2017 after learning it was ineffective. She lost the fight with disease later that year.

The hole left in the Butcher family was irreparable, so John and  daughter Sarah wanted to keep fighting for victims of the disease.

Mrs Ludowyk is hosting a charity event this Saturday night to raise funds for ovarian cancer research called “A Night for Maz”in Geelong.

While John also wishes to continue advocating for funding and ensuring women are aware of the risks.

Mr Butcher said Marylin’s death had a profound affect on his immediate family.

“The impact of that diagnosis and the caring for Marilyn, even has an affect on me today; it changed my life. Diagnosed in late April of 2014, and chemo all the time until 2017, major surgery in 2017,” Mr Butcher said.

“I’ve got five children. The boys just blocked it out and would get upset when they saw her.

“One daughter had quite a lot of trouble coping. Sarah had emotional times but she was focused for her mum. I believe that they still have moments of extreme emotion. I feel emotional for them, because of the emotional extremes I have seen them go through. They have put up facebook posts that have been beautiful, the boys as well.”

Mr Butcher said after years of chemo and going through major surgery, Maz was unable to make a full recovery.

“In early 2017, we ceased chemo because it wasn’t doing anything. She was ill and she had major moments of how to go on and then moments saying ‘I’m going to have another Christmas’,” Mr Butcher said.

“I would say caring was not a problem and not hard work, it was just an emotional roller coaster ride.”

Ovarian Cancer Australia reports there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer, so all women need to be aware of the symptoms.

Four women are diagnosed with the disease each day and only 46 percent of them survive.

Prior to 2018, there was no funding from the Federal Government available for research into ovarian cancer.

Former ABC radio presenter Jill Emberson was instrumental in advocating for funding, after she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in February 2016.

Upset by the knowledge that her form of cancer had been underfunded for decades, she decided if she couldn’t save herself she would stand up for the next generations.

Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Jane Hill believes Ms Emberson’s efforts were the catalyst to The Federal Government announcement of the first substantial funding grant specifically targeted for ovarian cancer; $20 million for research, with a focus on early detection.

A petition she created calling on parity of funding for research between Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer was signed by 40,000 people.

Ms Emberson died late last year after battling with ovarian cancer for almost four years.

Mr Butcher said he believes there needs to be more awareness surrounding the disease.

“The awareness of it is really a worry for young women and older women who could be diagnosed with ovarian cancer now. They don’t have systems to locate it,” he said.

“I feel strongly about all the women and how it affects their families after, the partner and their children. I’m not meaning to deny any other cancer diagnosis, but ovarian cancer only women can get.”

He said he’s proud of his daughter for taking her own initiative to raise funds.

“She has done it by herself, with the assistance of Marilyn’s sister and daughters to raise some funds for ovarian cancer research. It’s a shame these things are needed from individuals to raise funds for something that affects women so devastatingly bad,” he said.

Mr Butcher wanted to thank the people of Warracknabeal and Rural Northwest Health for all their support during his Marilyn’s fight with cancer.

“The wonderful caring nature other than just medical from Dr Franklin was excellent. Rural Northwest palliative care headed at the time by Cathy Poulton was wonderful, they checked on me, on her, whenever Marilyn needed help she got more than just medical help.

“And the general care from the people of Warracknabeal, they were always there.”

Sarah is hosting a cocktail night at the Novotel in Geelong for fundraising towards for ovarian cancer research.

She has arranged for major items to be auctioned, where there will be entertainment and food.

People can also donate online directly to the cause is via https://give.everydayhero.com/au/a-moment-for-maz