Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.
Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

Campbells advance research into rare ovarian cancer

Chris and Emily Campbell are helping researchers learn more about understudied forms of ovarian cancer.

Spring 2024
By Kathy Clute

Emily Campbell was just 32 when she began seeing doctors in her hometown of Miami for vague symptoms—abdominal discomfort and bloating, low appetite, fatigue—that were dismissed by her local medical team until she insisted on an ultrasound scan. That led to a diagnosis of low-grade serous ovarian cancer and surgery to remove her reproductive organs.

Facing the prospect of post-surgical chemotherapy, Emily was alarmed that her physicians had little familiarity with her cancer. “For the number of times I was in the hospital and the doctor would say, ‘I’ve never seen this before’ or ‘This is rare,’ I was thinking, we have to find a doctor who sees this every day,” said Emily.

Their search led them to Ursula Matulonis, MD, chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and the Brock-Wilson Family Chair at Dana-Farber. After a new pathology workup at the Institute, Emily learned that she instead had borderline ovarian cancer, for which surgery is currently the only treatment option.

“It completely changed the trajectory of my life,” Emily said. “When you are given a diagnosis like low-grade serous carcinoma, your body and your mind kind of go into shock.” Learning that she would not have to go through chemotherapy was a huge relief.

But during the time they were seeking second opinions and researching ovarian cancer, Emily and her husband, Chris, realized that there’s a real dearth of information about borderline and low-grade forms of the disease, which are typically found in younger women.

“I wanted to know how this cancer grows or changes.”

Emily Campbell

“It’s really not studied enough and there are just not enough resources,” said Emily. “I wanted to know if it was going to come back in five years, or never. I wanted to know how this cancer grows or changes.”

That’s a big reason why the couple made a $1.5 million gift in 2023 to establish the Campbell Family Fund for Borderline and Low-Grade Ovarian Cancer Research at Dana-Farber. This will fund Matulonis’ work to understand the spectrum of the diseases, identify at-risk patients earlier, expand treatment options, and improve the quality of life for patients.

Chris explained that they chose Dana-Farber particularly because Matulonis had a project ready to go. “The team had clear goals for this research, and they were clear about what they needed in order to make the project come to life,” he said. “We met with the team last summer, and to see the amount of work they’d already done and see their excitement was really energizing. The biggest thing for us was knowing that it was going to move the needle.”

“We are so grateful for this vital support from Emily and Chris,” said Matulonis. “Their gift is incredibly impactful, given that only a fraction of ovarian cancer research funding is directed to the borderline or low-grade serous subtypes.”

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