Something I am extremely passionate about is Advocacy, Advocacy for raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer, raising funds for much needed research, and engaging with the wider community of fellow Teal Survivors and medical professionals to learn about and promote the latest developments in research and emerging treatment options.
Advocacy was something that I accidentally fell into, and for anyone reading this and wanting to engage and give back, I can’t recommend it enough!! For me, it all started a few months after my diagnosis, when the company I worked for was taking nominations for their “Charity of the Year” beneficiary. My manager insisted he nominate the UK charity “Ovarian Cancer Action” and use my story. As the votes were counted, we won with overwhelming support! All of my colleagues were so shocked to hear of my diagnosis and wanted to do everything they could to help. By the end of the year, the organisation had raised £40,000 for OCA and I had formed a wonderful relationship with this charity. I was thrust out of my comfort zone and invited to speak at fundraising events and charity balls, help coordinate a fun-run team, and do a coin donation bucket collection at London Underground Tube stations.
This section documents the events and initiatives I have been involved in. I have been truly inspired to have met these amazing people who work tirelessly to organise events to help others or honour the lives of loved ones lost. I feel honoured to have been a part of these, and it in turn gives me great comfort and meaning to what I go through as a woman still fighting this disease.
The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met highlight how much Ovarian Cancer can happen to ANYONE, young or old. There are some risk factors to keep in mind, but myself like many others, it just seems to be bad luck. I was a non-smoker, vegetarian, active, young woman with no genetic risk factors or high prevalence of cancer in the family. Looking back at the months prior to diagnosis, I remember occasionally feeling bloated, feeling full quickly, and some abdominal pain, but I didn’t think much of it - maybe I’d just been enjoying my food a bit too much! Little did I know that these were the classic symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Not many of us know the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer, or that there is no screening test (the Pap test does not pick up OVCA cells). If we can raise the awareness of symptoms and share the message of early detection, then we can have a greater chance of helping to save the lives of women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in the future.
These charities do such wonderful work to support women faced with Ovarian Cancer from facilitating support groups and developing resources, to funding research for clinical trials, raising awareness in the community about the symptoms, and to being our voice in the political sense to advocate for government funding and drug approvals. I'm always thankful to all of these charities for all the work they do.