Foundation gift fills hearts with hope for improved ovarian cancer survival rates
January 30, 2019
Although Ann Dobbie died 19 years ago, her legacy continues to grow through the vital work of the Queen of Hearts Foundation.
The foundation, which was established by Dobbie’s children in 2000 to honor her, supports early detection, education and research related to ovarian cancer. The local organization recently made a $435,000 gift to UCI Health, extending the high-risk screening and survivorship services of Ann’s Clinic to the UCI Health gynecologic oncology practice in south Orange County. It also funds ongoing ovarian cancer research in the Queen of Hearts Foundation Ovarian Cancer Research Laboratory at UCI School of Medicine.
“For years we have been in awe of the dedicated UCI Health gyn/onc physicians and research team,” says Kim Beaudette, Queen of Hearts Foundation founder and president. “They are passionate about finding ways to help women survive longer than the terrible statistics of ovarian cancer. We won’t give up supporting them because we know they won’t give up!”
Ann’s Clinic was established by the foundation and UCI Health to serve womenwho are at high risk for developing ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. It provides prevention, diagnosis and screening services for these women and addresses post-treatment health needs that are specific to ovarian and breast cancers.
“The clinic specializes in cancer survivorship issues that remain unaddressed in global cancer care,” says Dr. Michael Krychman, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, UCI School of Medicine. “Quality of life issues related to the cancer — like menopause, hot flashes, changes in intimacy — can be devastating to a woman. We’re here to help them reclaim vitality after cancer care.”
Ann’s Clinic is the right place for people like Cari Brogren. A healthy 50-year-old woman, Brogren was in pain. A community physician referred her to the clinic, where physicians confirmed the presence of a non-cancerous ovarian cyst.
After considering her family history of cancer, personal history of migraines and health status, Dr. Robert Bristow, her UCI Health surgeon, performed a partial hysterectomy, removing her uterus, both fallopian tubes and one ovary, along with the cyst.
Krychman, who continues to see Brogren every four to six weeks, said, “She went through menopause and had severe symptoms as a result of her surgery, as well as underlying medical issues. We took the time and effort to ensure she was treated and her disease kept stable without exacerbation. We coordinated the care to improve her overall quality of life.”
Brogren sees it this way. “They saved me. I was in so much pain. I was miserable.
“I feel like I received better care than I would have elsewhere. I am blessed to have such incredible doctors and nurses – they are the best,” says Brogren. “From the beginning through post-op, months after surgery, my care has been extraordinary.”
In just the last two years, visits to Ann’s Clinic have increased by 32 percent. More local residents are benefiting from early detection and effective coordination of care. In the research laboratory, Dr. Leslie Randall, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, UCI School of Medicine,whose work is partially funded by the Queen of Hearts Foundation, is making headway in improving- ovarian cancer treatment options and extending survival time.
Randall’s ongoing work includes assessing the safety and efficacy of the hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) agent, carboplatin, delivered during ovarian cancer surgery; assessing the increased ovarian cancer risk from BRCA gene mutations; and efforts to identify what causes resistance to drugs that inhibit poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), a protein that helps repair damaged DNA.
“We are truly grateful for our partnership and the long-term support from the Queen of Hearts Foundation, as it has enabled us to accomplish so much towards our shared goal of identifying research breakthroughs in the early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer,” says Randall. “With their generous new gift, UCI will continue to be a leader in the battle against ovarian cancer for our region and beyond, and provide the very best clinical care and emotional support to assist women dealing with this terrible disease.”
For nearly two decades, the Foundation has partnered with UCI Health to advance ovarian cancer care and research. In 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCI Health’s gynecology service 20th in the nation, which places the service fifth in California and first in the Los Angeles/Orange County region.