Seema is a visual awareness consultant and is supporting our TAKE OVAR campaign.
I got in touch with Target Ovarian Cancer after my mum Savarn Lata passed away – I had to do something to raise money and raise awareness. Mum, who everyone knew by her middle name Lata, was a generous and kind person, who lived for her family. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January, and she passed away 11 months later, in the December of the same year.
Before Mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she had abdominal pains, bloating, and her back hurt. She also had a cough for a long time and started to lose her appetite. Mum kept going back to the GP and they just didn’t link any of these symptoms to ovarian cancer. I think it’s a common story and it’s one of the reasons I’m telling my Mum’s story today – we need more GPs to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer, so that more women are diagnosed more quickly.
Getting a diagnosis
In the end, I and everyone in my family could see Mum was in pain, so we took her privately to have some tests done – blood tests and an ultrasound. They did a biopsy after the ultrasound showed something around her ovaries, and doctors found she had ovarian cancer.
We were so shocked – we were all together when we heard from the doctor. There was a nurse there too and she helped to explained a bit more, and we were also given written materials to help us understand.
Treatment started quite quickly. It was going to be Mum’s 70th birthday in early February – we had a birthday celebration, then she went on to have chemotherapy, then an operation in April. Mum had a long recovery time but she coped really well. In late summer, Mum started experiencing some of her earlier symptoms again, and we were dismayed to hear from the doctors that the cancer had come back.
From then, doctors started helping her with pain relief – she came to stay with me in September, but she was struggling to eat and went back into hospital again, and was eventually referred to a hospice. Mum came home for a week before she passed away in December. The Macmillan and Harlington Hospice nurses visited – they were wonderful, and we also had great support from my local GP.
A close family
My mum was a lovely, selfless person. She worked hard, and her children and grandchildren were so important to her. Before her diagnosis, she lived with me and helped me out – I can’t see, so it was lovely to have her with us. Mum found things difficult after my dad died in 2004, but she continued to always try and help everyone – she loved making food and was very house proud. She liked the nice things in life– nice clothes, and she made the most of life before she was diagnosed. My mum had five daughters and eight grandchildren – the ninth was born on 20 December, just after she died.
I had to do something
I decided to support Target Ovarian Cancer because I think it's very important that we raise awareness of ovarian cancer. I think the work Target Ovarian Cancer does with GPs is excellent – that is where the resources need to be. If my mum had had an earlier diagnosis, she might have had a better quality of life afterwards. Chemotherapy can be difficult, and when she was in treatment she didn’t have as good a quality of life as she did before. If your body can’t handle that much medication, it’s very difficult.
I think it's time that we actually made some more headway in terms of research for Target Ovarian Cancer. We need to raise vital funds so we can do more research to find new treatments for ovarian cancer. I’m proud to support the TAKE OVAR campaign to raise awareness among women, to look out for symptoms and also educate people in all walks of life, from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities as well – because it affects everybody.
I try to keep busy alongside running my business, Blind Ambition, which is a visual awareness consultancy. I work as a consultant giving training to organisations to help them be inclusive towards people who are blind and partially-sighted. I’ve also started to do 5km Park Run every Saturday, and I’m involved with Bucks Vision, a charity that helps people with sight loss in my local area. I’m also collecting donations for a local children’s hospice, which has a new unit opening in January. It’s so important to keep busy – and raising awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer is a huge part of that for me now. In October I will take part in The Ovarian Cancer Walk with my family. Our team Lata’s Angels will walk in my wonderful mum’s memory and raise money so that more doctors are aware of ovarian cancer, its symptoms and what to do if they suspect someone might have it.
Seema is one of the the models in our campaign It's time to TAKE OVAR. She spoke to us backstage at the photoshoot this summer, watch her video.
Join the campaign and together we can make sure women in the UK have the best chances of survival.