Speers has been an ovarian cancer advocate since being diagnosed with the disease at 29-years of age, and has been associated with Ovarian Cancer Australia for more than a decade.
In a statement released on Monday, Speers said her goal for the next three years will be to “…work tirelessly to bring ovarian cancer to the forefront and to ensure that the 1720 women diagnosed in 2021 and those diagnosed in the future, have access to gold standard supportive care and information.”
Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Jane Hill welcomed Speers, a Tax & Legal Business Leader at Deloitte, noting her service on the Board of the OCA for over three and a half years.
“As an accomplished business leader and ovarian cancer survivor, she brings passion and know-how to ensure that OCA delivers on its vision to save lives and that no person affected by ovarian cancer walks alone,” Hill said.
In February last year, Speers shared her story at Ovarian Cancer Australia’s Parliamentary breakfast, urging the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to bring OCA’s Ovarian Cancer National Action Plan to life by providing more funding for ovarian cancer supportive services, clinical practice and research.
“So many amazing women have lost their battles with ovarian cancer and my survivor guilt was at times unbearable,” she said.
“We need funding for awareness and research, and that goes without saying. But the psychological support of our women and their families is very important too,” she said.
Morrison responded, saying “No amount of funding can ever be enough in this area and that’s why I think it will always be true to say, there can always be more that can be done.”
“As a result of Marina’s leadership, OCA has gone from strength to strength with a national footprint and delivering much-needed tailored information, support and referral through our team of ovarian cancer nurses and allied health professionals,” Speers said.
The announcement of Speer’s appointment comes as leading global ovarian cancer researcher, Professor Ian Jacobs, also UNSW’s Vice-Chancellor, is stepping down from the Board.
“We express our gratitude to Professor Jacobs, whose extensive expertise as a leading ovarian cancer researcher has been invaluable for our organisation and whose ground-breaking research has advanced the understanding of challenges associated with early detection,” Speers said.
In Australia, five women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day, and three will die from the disease. The five-year survival rate sits at 48 percent – the lowest survival rate of any women’s cancer.
Speers will join OCA’s board of directors: Marco D’Avino, Jo-Ann Hicks, Marise Maltman, Professor Karen Strickland and Adjunct Professor Juliet Bourke.