Taking the challenge for Kate

Kate Spackman, third from left, pictured with, from left, Carmen Lintsen, Amanda Mitchell and Laura Carleton.

The battle of a Wānaka homeowner inspired three women to raise funds for ovarian cancer awareness and research.


Amanda Mitchell, Carmen Lintsen and Laura Carleton set a goal of covering 1000 kilometres to support Step Up for Ovarian Cancer and completed the task last weekend.

The trio were inspired by their friend Kate Spackman who was diagnosed with cancer in November 2019.

Kate, who had always been active, had returned from her son’s wedding in the United States in August and realised something was wrong.

When Kate got an intense pain in her abdomen she marked where it was with a pen and went to her doctor. An ultrasound check discovered a 5cm tumour in her left fallopian tube directly - under the pen mark.

She had surgery which included a hysterectomy and paraaortic nodal dissection and was diagnosed with stage 3 high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

In January last year she started six cycles of chemotherapy with carboplatin and paclitaxel every three weeks.

“Chemo is brutal. I lost all my hair, including my eyebrows and eye lashes. It hurt, like someone was pulling each hair out because the follicles were very sensitive. Nerve endings in my feet and hands were affected, causing numbness and my jaw was really painful, I mostly ate soup, so I didn’t have to chew, and my joints were really painful.”

Kate recovered from the chemotherapy but earlier this year she became very tired, and was feeling something wasn’t right when she found a lump on her pelvis. A scan showed a cancerous lymph node. After surgery her doctors recommended another six rounds of chemotherapy starting in April.

A nurse recommended soaking in a warm bath to ease the joint pain, so in between treatments Kate would retreat to her second home in Wānaka which has a bath, unlike her Christchurch home. "The warm water really does help," says Kate.

Her sixth and final chemotherapy session was scheduled for mid-August and Kate felt it was déjà vu when lockdown was announced because the country was locked down before she had completed her treatment last year.  


"The nurse reassured me that, as with last time, I could travel from Wānaka to Christchurch for my medical appointments during level 3 and 4. Last year we were stopped twice, but the police were very sympathetic."

The Covid level change also created challenges for Kate's friends Amanda, Laura and Carmen who planned to cycle, run and walk 1000km during September for gynaecological cancer awareness month.

The exceeded a goal of raising $1000 - a dollar for each kilometre.


Cycling is a passion they share with Kate.

Last weekend she supported from home as her friends participated in the Spring Challenge.  


The team was fifth in their category and 75th overall out of 220 teams started.


“We had a fabulous day, starting our raft leg on the Arnold River, just below the dramatic Arnold River dam, at 7.45 am, and finishing on the edge of Lake Brunner 5 hrs, 56 mins and 59 secs later. Fabulous course through beautiful, if sometimes muddy, countryside,” Amanda reported.


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