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Ovarian Cancer Leaders Recognised

Today, Cancer Australia CEO, Professor Helen Zorbas, presented the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award to the 2015 recipients at a ceremony attended by Jeremy Ferris, son of the late Senator Jeannie Ferris.  This year’s winners are Ms Bridget Whelan and Professor Michael Friedlander AM. 

The Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award was established in 2013 to recognise exceptional efforts made by individual Australians to improve outcomes for women with gynaecological cancers, in two categories: health professionals and researchers; and those with personal experience of the disease. 

Professor Zorbas said, “I am delighted to recognise these outstanding Australians, Ms Whelan and Professor Friedlander for their contribution to those affected by gynaecological cancers.”

Prior to being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010, Ms Bridget Whelan was a qualified lawyer and senior adviser to several State and Federal Government Ministers.  Following her diagnosis, Ms Whelan used her considerable professional skills in her volunteer work as a consumer advocate, ensuring that the consumer experience informs cancer research, information, policy and care.   

Ms Whelan’s commitment to improving outcomes for women with ovarian cancer is also evident in her extensive and diverse work for a number of organisations, throughout her treatment and recovery cycles.  These include: Ovarian Cancer Australia; the Australia and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group; Cancer Voices; and Cancer Institute NSW.  Ms Whelan has also provided consumer input into research programs for Calvary Hospital, University of New South Wales, Garvan Institute, Westmead Hospital and the Peter MacCallam Cancer Centre. 

“Ms Whelan is an intelligent, determined and indefatigable advocate for those affected by ovarian and other cancers.  Ms Whelan’s commitment and contribution reflect the spirit and essence of the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award,” said Professor Zorbas.     

The successful recipient of the health professionals and researchers award is Professor Michael Friedlander AM.

Professor Friedlander has had a long and distinguished career as a medical oncologist, and has been involved in the field of gynaecological oncology for the last 30 years.  He is an international leader in the improvement of outcomes for women with gynaecological cancers, having founded the Australia and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group, served as President of the International Gynaecological Cancer Society and Principal Investigator for the Gynaecologic Oncology Group in the United States. 

In 1990, he was appointed Conjoint Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales.  Professor Friedlander is currently Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Royal Hospital for Women and Director of Medical Oncology at Prince of Wales Hospital.  In 2011, Professor Friedlander was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for his outstanding work. 

Professor Friedlander is recognised for his influence in improving outcomes for women with gynaecological cancer across research, clinical practice, community education, advocacy and policy. 

“His contributions to cancer control are recognised by his peers both nationally and internationally, and his compassionate and individualised care is greatly appreciated by his patients and their carers.  Professor Friedlander is an exceptional contributor and a most worthy recipient of this award,” said Professor Zorbas. 

The Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award is named in honour of the late Jeannie Ferris, Senator for South Australia, who was passionately committed to raising awareness about gynaecological cancers.  Senator Ferris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2005 and passed away in April 2007.

Gynaecological cancer is an overarching term used to describe cancer of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina and vulva, as well as the fallopian tube and placenta (a pregnancy related cancer).

For all media enquiries, please contact:  Amy Cook at Cancer Australia on (02) 9357 9401, 0438 209 833 or email