Kristen Larsen was just 21 years old when she received a phone call that changed her life forever.
The Brisbane local was living abroad and travelling when she started experiencing severe cramps – not long after she was diagnosed with advanced (stage 3c) ovarian cancer.
“On November 13, 2013, I was told my test results were ready and that I needed to bring a loved one to hospital with me,” Ms Larsen said.
“I was preparing myself for what I thought was the worst case scenario – an ovarian cyst.
“Then, sitting in front of the doctor, everything went into slow motion. The words ‘biopsy’, ‘cancer’ and the sound of my sister’s shriek will never leave me.”
Despite undergoing chemotherapy, a full hysterectomy and having her large bowel removed, the cancer returned in 2015 – this time, resistant to previous treatments and deemed incurable.
Ms Larsen, now 24, is back living in Brisbane and receiving treatment through a clinical trial in the hope of extending her life.
To help raise awareness of the need for more research and better treatment options, Ms Larsen has shared her story in support of Cancer Council Queensland’s Girls’ Night In campaign.
This October, Ms Larsen will join thousands of Queenslanders to host a Girls’ Night In to raise funds for all women affected by breast or gynaecological cancers.
Around 3000 Queensland women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Queensland each year, and about 1000 are diagnosed with an ovarian, cervical, vaginal, vulva or uterine cancer.
Ms Larsen encouraged Queenslanders to get the girls together, host a Girls’ Night In and raise vital funds for a cancer free future.
“Raising funds for Cancer Council Queensland is important because of the ground-breaking research they fund into improving treatment options available to patients like myself,” she said.
“I know first-hand how powerful female friendship is. My sister, Elsa, has been by my side to support me throughout my cancer journey and I have a wonderful group of girlfriends that make me smile when times are tough.
“I’m excited to get these important women in my life together for a good cause by hosting my first Girls’ Night In this October.”
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said Queenslanders who hosted a Girls’ Night In gave hope to women, like Kristen, affected by cancer.
“One in six women will be diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancer in their lifetime – more than 4000 women this year alone,” Ms Clift said.
“Girls’ Night In is a powerful way to make a difference – simply spend a night in with your girlfriends and donate what you would have spent on a night out to Cancer Council Queensland.
“This is also an opportunity for women to get together, talk about their health, and encourage each other to participate in regular check-ups and cancer screenings.”
Cancer Council Girls’ Night In aims to raise $1.4 million through 3000 hosts in Queensland in 2016.
All funds raised will be invested in vital cancer research, patient support services and prevention programs for women affected by breast and gynaecological cancers.
For more information, visit girlsnightin.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or Cancer Council’s 13 11 20.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5345
Mobile: 0428 580 363