World Ovarian Cancer Day is an annual opportunity for advocates, like Anne, to raise their voices in solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer. Anne shares her personal diagnosis story with WomenCan to help change the culture around understanding ovarian cancer and amplify the importance of clinical research.
What next? More than a question, this mantra has chartered Anne Moston through her almost decade-long ovarian cancer journey.
In 2012, the single mother of four felt bloated, exhausted and certain something wasn’t right.
“I knew my own body and that something wasn’t right. I wanted those concerns to be taken seriously and to find answers,” Anne said.
“I had unresolved bloating, sudden total weakness and constantly needed to go to the toilet.”
“We lost three women in our family to ovarian cancer and I had this gut feeling, perhaps a divine whisper, which I’m glad I listened to.
"I pushed my doctor into sending me for a scan and while getting an ultrasound, the mood changed. I thought, that’s not a good sign…”
The scan revealed elevated tumour markers and a 10x11x12cm cyst on Anne’s right ovary, which required urgent attention.
“I had surgery in Sydney and thought we were clear but it wasn’t until a phone call while boarding the plane home that the shock came – ‘Sorry, it’s cancerous on both sides.’
“It was an enormous roller coast of emotion. I thought, how am I going to tell the kids?”
Thankfully, the Dubbo NSW community rallied behind Anne, who persevered through six cycles of chemotherapy to homeschool her children.
“I’m grateful for all the support and encouragement I've received.”
Anne was given the all clear in October 2012 but unfortunately, the 75% recurrence rate of ovarian cancer struck six years later.
“One day everything felt normal and the next, my right leg went numb,” Anne said.
“Again, I knew something wasn’t right and pushed doctors until I got an MRI. The worst was confirmed, it was back.”
Anne had a brain stem tumour measuring 15x11x11mm, with further testing detecting others in her lungs, liver and abdomen.
“I learned ‘how come?’ is a pointless question. Even if you know the answer, it doesn’t change the reality,” she said.
“‘What now?’ is a proactive question that helps give traction to my world.”
“Asking ‘what next?’ gives you something practical to do and helps you continue walking forward, rather than getting stuck in emotions.
“What’s next could be a shower, feeding the kids or an appointment with the oncologist.”
Anne is a fierce advocate for ovarian research programs like OASIS. The world-class, signal-seeking, ovarian cancer program is facilitated by the Australia New Zealand Gynaecology Oncology Group (ANZGOG).
“I have a genetic cancer and don’t want my girls to have to go through what I’ve gone through,” she said.
Daughter Michaela carries the BRCA 1 gene, which increases a person’s chances of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.
“It was a massive shock and a lot of pressure to have in my 20s,” the 22-year-old said.
“I definitely had some tears but I can’t change the fact I have this gene. Research is so important and I’m joining Mum in fighting for better outcomes for all of us.”
With vital research dramatically underfunded and devastatingly low survival rates, Anne has only one question... what next?
Written by Alison Dance, WomenCan & ANZGOG Volunteer Reporter
Thank you to Anne Moston for sharing her story with WomenCan. If you would like to share your story too and join the collective cause to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and research, please contact us.
You can make a life-changing donation to WomenCan, which supports ANZGOG’s clinical research: