Jessica Pressnell It Ain’t Ova

  • Tauira / Student
    Jessica Pressnell
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Meighan Ellis

'In New Zealand, ovarian cancer kills more women every year than melanoma or the national road toll, yet the Ministry of Health doesn’t list it on the consumer cancer section of their website’. *
A cancer so evil yet so silent, killing one woman every 48 hours. A cancer that can affect women of all ages, yet the research towards it is so underfunded that it ranks last out of all 5 of the gynaecological cancers in Aotearoa. Conversations surrounding ovarian cancer have yet to become normalised and portrayed in a way that reflects just how crucial education and early detection of this cancer is, as the survival of someone affected by this harrowing disease is determined by how early the signs and symptoms are identified.
How does awareness begin to happen towards a cancer with so little research and so ignored by our government and the health system? This project scrutinises ovarian cancer in an effort to raise awareness for women about the disease's warning signals, symptoms, and heart-breaking statistics, in the hopes that it will shed light on how critical knowledge and rapid identification is.
From extensive medical and statistical research, ideation, and iteration; a final scalable design system was implemented across a suite of integrated formats and media with typographic assets that reference transvaginal ultrasounds, using scanning and manipulated printing techniques. The primary teal colour, used throughout the campaign is based on the international ovarian cancer ribbon, and is recognised globally as a symbol of this disease. The visual assets are based on the uterus, ovaries, reproductive eggs, and microscopic cancer mutations, specifically the dysgerminoma, epithelial and stromal cells.

‘It Ain’t Ova’ aims to inform, break stigmas, and normalise discussions about topics such as these that are still viewed as taboo in our society, through various touch points and collateral designed to have an impact specifically on a Generation X–Millennial demographic. This awareness campaign born from the mere shock that ovarian cancer is barely on Aotearoa’s wellness radar, includes posters–static and animated, an Instagram campaign, an A3 8-fold poster zine and an underwear design that features the subtle ghost of a uterus and the corresponding lines of transvaginal ultrasonography. The campaign title references the Lenny Kravitz 1991 hit, It Ain't Over 'til It's Over, which was and still is an ‘earworm’ for many.
My mum was 19 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the age that I am now. She had one of the rarest forms of this cancer; ovarian dysgerminoma and was diagnosed when she was at stage 3. Had she not identified signs of the illness at the stage she did, I would not be here as a second-year design student, writing this and inciting a call to action on gynaecological health in Aotearoa via this awareness campaign project.

* Media release from the University of Auckland, 5th February 2020,