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Ovarian Cancer Action: A challenging year in review

21 December 2020

Learnings from a challenging year

Action is one third of our name and 100% of what we are about, and if ever there was a year to prove it, this was it! Throughout 2020 we’ve faced all kinds of challenges and hurdles, but thanks to your ongoing support we’ve been able to face them head on.

Fundraising as we know it got turned on its head, our scientists were forced to spend months our of their labs, and we said goodbye to our office. So how did we manage to keep moving forwards? What exactly have we been up to? Here’s a little insight into a very big year and how we have truly been taking action...

Goodbye to our office

Like so many organisations, our team took to working remotely to stay safe and so we said goodbye to our office. In this difficult year the money that we save on renting a space is incredibly valuable for ovarian cancer research.

One day we may have a new home for the team, but since March we have made Zoom our home, clocking up over 615,661+ minutes of video calls fuelled by more than 10,000 cups of tea, and together we’ve saved over 6,840 hours on travel time. We’ve welcomed new members of the teams and even though we’re not physically together, we remain a family, with a renewed commitment to do everything we can to make ovarian cancer a survivable disease.

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Have Ovarian Cancer Action’s research projects been impacted?

Sadly this year’s financial uncertainty and time out of the labs thanks to social distancing has resulted in our research projects being delayed. However, our amazing Scientists have not been sat at home twiddling their thumbs. They've been analysing all their data, writing up papers and now they are back in the labs making up for lost time. Plus we've managed to squeeze in a Mid-Term Review and our expert Scientific Advisory Board have judged the research progress at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre to be excellent. Our exciting new projects we were due to launch this year were put on hold. However, we do have some fantastic news for the new year - thanks to your generous support these projects will now be starting in spring 2021, which is just around the corner and we can’t wait to get going on them.

Fundraising like you’ve never seen it before

Well, where do we begin? All of our major events were cancelled. Deep breath. Yes, all of them. From the London Marathon, to global bike rides, fundraising events were hit hard. But we couldn’t let these cancellations hold us back. Fundraising is what makes our work possible and we are so lucky to have such dedicated supporters who joined us in our alternative and safe fundraising events this year.

110 people took part in our Step Challenge, walking over 26 million steps. 

You’ve been fundraising remotely in the most creative ways that we never could have imagined, from online gaming events to virtual walks and cycles. Miles apart, the fundraising events you took part in kept us driven, inspired and connected. Thank you.


This year we saw one family take on a fantastic fundraising challenge riding an incredible 621 miles. The Winter family took to their bicycles just like their grandmother Brenda.

We’ve been staying connected with you

Back in April, we launched Staying Connected with our friends at Ovacome – a programme designed to help our community feel connected, informed and uplifted throughout these uncertain times. Our new series of webinars have allowed us to share more than 79,260 seconds of information and support with you to date. Experts and doctors have volunteered their time to share their knowledge and we’ve been happy to see how our community has grown.

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Raising awareness of ovarian cancer is more important than ever 

This year saw a dramatic drop in the number of people visiting their GP and subsequently in referrals. So we’ve been busy keeping women informed of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and encouraging them to visit their GP if they are experiencing them, so that cases of ovarian cancer can be diagnosed as early as possible. We have reached millions of women through our digital awareness campaigns and we continue to do so. We even took to the UK’s largest billboard in Piccadilly Circus to share our very important message.

Ovarian cancer action piccadilly circus

What’s been happening in the lab?

The impact of Covid-19 regulations and changes to work practicalities this year impacted every member of Ovarian Cancer Action, including our scientists. At the start of the pandemic this impacted our lab work, and productivity of our scientists was knocked down to 25%. However we are so excited to announce that our scientists are now up to nearly 100% productivity as they have been working from home on their data analysis. 

Our team of scientists are working above and beyond to make up for lost time.

Ovarian Cancer Action Scientists at Christmas

It’s been a year of highs and lows, from receiving over £1.2million from the tampon tax we’ve jumped for joy, to knowing our research being delayed and our fundraising being turned on its head. It has been a hard year, but we are so grateful to have you by our side. We have an incredible team who continue to do all they can to raise awareness of this dreadful disease and work to create a better future for women, where we are not losing 1 woman every two hours to ovarian cancer.