Stephen recently did a skydive in memory of his sister, who passed away earlier this year with ovarian cancer. He talks about his fundraising experience and why it was important to him to raise awareness along the way...
Viv was an extremely caring, outgoing and active sister who had taken up various pursuits and voluntary positions after retiring from teaching. She had a great interest in languages, speaking both French and German, and also studying Spanish! Viv had a great sense of humour and was very popular amongst her friends.
Initially, when Viv sought medical advice, her GP suggested that her symptoms were down to a hernia linked to a previous operation years earlier. When she sought further examinations and specifically raised concerns about her ovaries, she was dismissed. A short time after this she was diagnosed with stage IIIc ovarian cancer. While she was upset and concerned, she always remained positive and upbeat throughout treatment, until she sadly died last year.
I wanted to raise money for Target Ovarian Cancer and I particularly wanted to raise awareness of the importance of earlier diagnosis for ovarian cancer. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to promote the charity to family and friends, many of whom were largely unaware of the numbers of women affected by the disease, and the impact it has on individuals and their families.
I chose to do a skydive as I considered it as a risk, but nothing compared to what Vivienne had faced. As Viv had originally been misdiagnosed, I wanted to do something to make friends and family aware of the need to be examined without delay, should they get any symptoms.
I did a couple of jumps 40 years previously whilst I was in the army, and I always said I wouldn’t do it again out of fear! However, this was for a special reason, and in memory of a very special lady.
I was surprisingly relaxed as the day of the event approached, as I was determined to do something worthwhile to support the charity in memory of my sister. I knew that any fear I had was nothing compared to what Viv had gone through.
Along with other novice skydivers, I received training just before the jump, and I was assigned to an experienced instructor and photographer who recorded the event. The freefall was the most exhilarating part, followed by some relief when the chute opened! What a fantastic experience! My thoughts were with my sister throughout the day, and I was so grateful to be supported by cheering family and friends who came to support me.
I raised £700 (plus gift aid!) from family and friends after setting up an online Just Giving page, and advertising the event to friends on Facebook. I also designed and distributed flyers to neighbours who didn’t have access to social media, to let them know about my fundraising.
I was in contact with members of the fundraising team at Target Ovarian Cancer throughout my preparations, and they were on hand for advice and support, as well as providing the T shirt that I wore for my skydive.
I was really pleased to have done this in Viv’s memory, and hopefully the awareness and funds raised will help someone else get the early diagnosis they need.