By Luke Voogt
A lifesaving trip to the doctor 2017 has inspired Phillipa Challis’s new quest to raise awareness of uterine cancer.
The Manifold Heights resident on 18 April helped launch the Geelong Regional Cancerians.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” she said.
“We have a very strong committee dedicated to raising awareness and money.”
Phillipa immediately saw her GP when she experienced tiredness and stomach pain before noticed a “spotting” of blood in her urine.
But 80 per cent of women waited 18 months to take action when they experienced similar symptoms, she said.
“I had discomfort in the stomach, which I put down to perhaps I’d been overindulging.“
The symptoms came just a year after husband Derek died from oesophageal cancer.
“I put my malaise down to not feeling well because I was recently widowed,” she said.
The GP referred Phillipa to obstetrician Karl Najjar, who diagnosed her with endometrial carcinoma.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh my god, how will my daughter cope?,'” Phillipa confided.
But gynaecologic oncologist Tom Jobling then performed a lifesaving hysterectomy, telling her after she had at least another 20 years to live.
“My daughter said, ‘Really? I’ve got to look after her that long?’,” Phillipa told an 80-plus launch crowd to laughter.
Phillipa and fellow Order of Australia Medallist Helene Bender founded the Cancerians to support research of treatments to increase uterine cancer survival rates.
“I thought as a thank you for being so fortunate to be a uterine cancer survivor that I wanted to give back to the community,” Phillipa said.
Professor Ian Brown, CEO of Australia Cancer Research Foundation, and Prof Jobling also spoke at the event at Deakin University’s waterfront campus.