Chai’s annual Natalie Shipman Memorial Lecture

Chai’s annual Natalie Shipman Memorial Lecture

The  Chai Cancer Care ‘Natalie Shipman Memorial’ lecture on ‘New strategies for improving outcomes in ovarian cancer’ with Professor Gordon Jayson – professor of Medical Oncology, The Christie Foundation Trust attracted over 400 households online on the evening of Wednesday 21st October.

Natalie z’l, daughter of Susan Shipman Chai’s founder president, was one of the catalysts that inspired Chai’s inception thirty years ago. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was two years old and sadly passed away from a brain tumour just before her eighth birthday.

Chai Chairman Louise Hager introduced the evening informing the audience on the many ways that Chai is still supporting their clients during Covid-19 and highlighted one particular service relevant to the evening in dedication to Natalie.

“A young man who was one of Natalie’s classmates recently told us how he remembers how distressed he and the other children in the class felt when they were told that Natalie had passed away. There was no opportunity to have a further discussion. Thirty years ago, cancer was not spoken about – and certainly not to children It was often referred to as ‘The Big C’ in a negative way, but we have reclaimed this with our latest campaign, the ‘Chai’s big C* of *Care.’


Our ‘Chai in Schools’ programme is an initiative that currently operates in 23 primary and secondary schools across the UK. It supports children affected by a cancer diagnosis of either themselves or someone in their family. It also gives teachers who may never have encountered this situation, advice and training in how to respond appropriately to the child’s needs.”


Dr Adrian Tookman – Medical Director, Marie Curie Care then introduced the keynote speaker Professor Jayson whose presentation covered important areas including the biology behind ovarian cancer, the BRCA gene and the latest new treatments in an in informative and approachable manner.


Distinguishing the similarities and differences between irritable bowel syndrome and ovarian cancer, Gordon points out that although both involve a bloated stomach and abdominal pain, IBS usually comes and goes and is not something you initially develop in your 50s.


Speaking about the importance of BRCA gene screening for those with a family history in breast/ovarian cancer particularly within the Jewish Ashkenazi community he said, “We are trying to pick up BRCA genes in all our patients with ovarian cancer so we can make the family members aware in advance so that they are able to make informed choices to potentially remove the risk.“


He reassuringly expressed his confidence in the advancement in recent ovarian cancer treatments for those with BRCA abnormalities, referring to ‘SOLO1’ – a clinical trial which showed a remarkable difference in average survival rates in patients with ovarian cancer from 15 months to 5 years and counting.

There was an opportunity to have any queries answered by Gordon through a live question box. The lecture was a great success with much positive feedback. As one participant put it, “Excellent lecture! He was very clear and made a complicated subject understandable.”