Home Medical Specialisation Oncology The young woman about to set doctors straight

The young woman about to set doctors straight

Kristen Larsen is receiving treatment for stage three ovarian cancer for the second time. Picture: Ric Frearson
Kristen Larsen is receiving treatment for stage three ovarian cancer for the second time. Picture: Ric Frearson

AT JUST 23, Brisbane woman Kristen Larsen has more experience with cancer than most people and she wants doctors to know it’s not just medical treatment they need to address.

In June, Ms Larsen was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer and became one of just 72 Australians on an experimental drug trial.

It’s the second time the budding graphic designer has sought treatment for the cancer, having been first diagnosed at 21, when it was found in her ovaries, bowel, abdomen and just outside her liver. The cancer has now reoccurred in her abdomen and lungs.

Rather than shy away from the diagnosis, she is travelling to Sydney this week to attend a summit on youth cancers on behalf of Cancer Council Queensland.

“I want to be able to help other people going through it. I know how hard it is and how alone you can feel.”

At the first National Youth Cancer Summit and the Inaugural International Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Scientific Congress, Ms Larsen will educate medical professionals on what young cancer patients need.

“It’s about remembering that we are people and not just a number, and especially with young people, who do have different needs.

“You grow up thinking … you’ll live until you’re grey and old, and then when something like cancer happens, you question everything.”

Ms Larsen said doctors needed to consider body image and the social aspects of having had cancer.

Every day in Australia about five new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the adolescent and young adult population.

CCQ spokeswoman Katie Clift said survival rates for cancer among young people was improving but their long term life expectancy still suffered and more research was needed to understand why.