Cheryl-Ann Hawkins’ impressive career spans various leadership oncology nursing roles, with a focus on early phase/first in human drug trials.
For the past 30 years, Cheryl-Ann has been committed to the implementation of innovative approaches of clinical trial delivery, to ensure cancer patients have a choice of treatment options.
“If there is a clinical trial option to treat a patient’s cancer, it is the best option of treatment. The trial is going to provide access to treatment that is not yet available to the general public,” said Cheryl-Ann.
As a young student, Cheryl-Ann was set on becoming a midwife. However, when her first placement as a student nurse was on the Haematology Unit at The Alfred, she had a change of heart.
“I knew then that I wanted to make a difference to the cancer patients I was looking after and developed a very ambitious streak to learn about cancer.”
Within three years of graduating as a Registered Nurse, Cheryl-Ann successfully applied as the Assistant Manager of the Oncology Ward at The Royal Melbourne Hospital: a position that changed the trajectory of her career. Two years later, she was successful in developing, setting up and becoming the Nurse Manager for a new cancer inpatient and outpatient service.
“I am always trying to influence change and promote the best possible outcome for patients and nurses,” said Cheryl-Ann.
For the past 18 years, Cheryl-Ann has been at the forefront of early phase/first in human drug trials.
“Immunotherapy changed the treatment for cancer, and I am so grateful that I was able to be involved with these early clinical trials” said Cheryl-Ann.
“When I first started in early phase clinical trials the possibility of patients having a response to the drug was very small, but then along came immunotherapy and even though patients were experiencing side effects, they weren’t the crippling side effects of some chemotherapy drugs.”
Cheryl-Ann has witnessed many clinical trials success stories during her career, including the early G-CSF trials.
She clearly remembers a young woman in her 30s who had been diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer. “She was able to access one of our early phase drug trials during a period where she had no other treatment options and was potentially in her last 6 months of her life….this was 6 years ago, and she still lives cancer free.”
Cheryl-Ann has completed a post graduate diploma in Oncology/Palliative Care Nursing, a Master’s degree in Health Administration and a postgraduate certificate in Cancer Research. Cheryl-Ann’s most recent role was Clinical Research Manager, Medical Oncology at Alfred Health.
When Cheryl-Ann is not at work she enjoys spending time with her three daughters, husband and their golden retriever. She’s an avid cyclist, and rides to the office most days, and winds down with a good book in the evening.