John is taking part in The Ovarian Cancer Walk in Falkirk on Saturday 10 October, and has taken the time to tell us about why he's signed up.
I’m taking part in The Ovarian Cancer Walk in Falkirk with a team of friends and colleagues to celebrate my late wife Elaine’s battle with ovarian cancer last year. One of our team, the Blistered Bairns’, is walking in memory of her sister.
I’m ridiculously passionate about the work of Target Ovarian Cancer and here’s why.
Three Decembers ago Elaine was ill in hospital in Edinburgh. Elaine worked between Glasgow and Birmingham and we spent the best part of a month racing up and down the motorway to make visiting times.
We thought it was all because of the chaotic life we were both leading
Elaine had lost some weight and then in November and December it started going back on. We thought it was all because of the chaotic life we were both leading between work and hospital, with snatched meals at odd times of the day. Hardly a healthy diet! But after her mum’s funeral, the weight continued to rise, despite attempts to exercise and eat better. Eventually Elaine decided to go to her GP.
It was all fine and he ordered a battery of tests. One she didn’t recognise – CA125 levels. A trip to Google and the Target Ovarian Cancer website later and Elaine finally understood that she was demonstrating the early symptoms of the disease and had done for some time.
By the time she was formally diagnosed it was January 2013 and her cancer was already advanced. Several rounds of chemo and surgery later, we knew the position was bleak. Ever the upbeat pragmatist, Elaine made light of her battle and put on the show that so many cancer patients do – nothing too much trouble, glass-half full and so on.
But one thing really riled her.
Perhaps they would have caught this thing earlier
If she had known earlier, perhaps they would have caught this thing earlier. The fluid build-up in particular is a classic symptom as we all know now, but in her case it had been going on for months and she was attributing the change to our busy life.
Target Ovarian Cancer’s awareness raising work is essential.
Early diagnosis improves outcomes and means that we all get to enjoy relationships, friends and families longer. I reckon that if my friends and I can raise money to help raise that awareness just by going for a walk in a beautiful country park it’s a no-brainer.
John Collins lectures in media at West College Scotland and then spends his weekends broadcasting on Bauer Media’s ‘Greatest Hits’ stations all over Scotland.