As Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2018 draws to a close, I thought I would share some thoughts looking back over what has been another successful year in the campaign to increase people’s knowledge of this awful disease.
At the very start of the month it was a pleasure to host the launch event for Eve Appeal’s month long ‘Make Time for Tea’ fundraising campaign. Make Time for Tea encourages people to get together throughout the month of March and hold gatherings in order to fundraise, and spread awareness of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Last year, these efforts resulted in £60,000 being raised for Eve Appeal, money that will go towards funding ground breaking research.
The evening included updates on current research, and an extremely powerful and moving account of being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at a young age from Laura Moses. Since her diagnosis, Laura has been working incredibly hard to help raise awareness among other young women about the disease, through articles, pictures, speaking appointments and social media. You can read her fantastic blog here. It was a genuine honour to hear her experience, and that of her father who also spoke frankly and openly about how the diagnosis affected the entire family.
Attendees of the launch event were treated to lovely cakes and tea kindly donated by Ole & Steen and Whittard respectively. I would like to thank the Eve Appeal for the tireless work that they do and organising this event which has now become a landmark in the parliamentary calendar.
Hearing Laura’s story re-affirmed to me just how important it is that we support the research being conducted on Ovarian and other Gynaecological Cancers. In my capacity as Chair of the APPG on Ovarian Cancer I recently chaired a session as part of a wider inquiry entitled ‘Diagnosing ovarian cancer sooner: what more can be done?’ The evidence gathered from these sessions will form the basis of a report due to be published in May. Increased genetic testing and screening will be key to ensuring that many more women are diagnosed as early as possible. UK Survival Rates are some of the lowest in Europe, and this is something that must change.
Towards the end of the month I was thrilled to see many MPs from across the House of Commons come together to be #TealHeroes, dressed up in finest Teal regalia. Despite my best efforts, I was pipped to the post as the ‘Best Dressed’ Teal Hero by Andrew Gwynne MP who triumphed with this attempt:
Teal Heroes is a new initiative aimed at increasing awareness amongst women of some of the key symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Many of these symptoms closely resemble those of more minor illnesses and as such are often wrongly diagnosed or dismissed. It is incumbent upon us all to ensure we know the key symptoms and share with them friends and family members.
Finally it was great to see Athena Lamnisos, CEO of the Eve Appeal, raising Ovarian Cancer on a panel discussion at the Women’s Health Parliamentary Conference. Ovarian Cancer Action were also present at the conference with a stall throughout the day to spread awareness amongst the delegates.
As the month comes to an end, I want to pay tribute to all organizations and researchers who are leading in this arena. They provide essential support and fundraising, and are working on projects that will help to reduce the number of people who suffer or die from this terrible disease. Thank you also to Target Ovarian Cancer who provide the secretariat for the Ovarian Cancer APPG, and work tirelessly throughout the year.