If you're a woman, you need to read this. If you're not, if you have a family member who's a woman, you need to read it too!
The Walk for One Million takes place on Sunday 7 October 2012 at Knebworth Park. It's all about ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer kills over 6,500 women in the UK each year. The survival rate is just 36 per cent after five years. To put that into perspective, the five year survival rate for breast cancer is 85 per cent, and quite rightly, the breast cancer charities aren't resting on their laurels! As is so often the case, the key is early diagnosis and this is where there has been a big problem with ovarian cancer.
In 2005, my mother and my younger sister both died of ovarian cancer, within seven weeks of each other. My mother survived eight years after her diagnosis. She didn't go through all the available treatments - by the time her cancer became resurgent, it just wasn't appropriate.
By contrast, my sister survived just about two years, despite accessing all the mainstream treatments and at least one experimental one too. The difference, at least in part, was that my mother's GP was appreciably quicker to recognise the symptoms she was suffering and made an urgent referral to a consultant of the correct discipline, whereas my sister was less fortunate. She was eventually referred to a gastro-enterologist, but without the urgency. It was this consultant who realised who she needed to see and the disease was already well advanced.
This needs to change. The purpose of the Walk is to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms with the public and with the medical profession. If women and those who treat them know the warning signs, there is a much better chance that sufferers will diagnosed quickly and receive life saving treatment.
We shall also be raising funds for the continuing work of the charity in supporting sufferers and their families, raising awareness and researching treatments. I shall be walking as part of the fifteen strong Team Sarah, remembering my sister, who died almost exactly seven years ago.