Just two years after my older sister had been diagnosed with cervical cancer, I was given the news that I had both ovarian and uterine cancer. Of the five types of gynecological cancer – vulval and vaginal being the other two – my sister and I had three. It was a huge blow and something that, as a family, we felt ill-prepared for. I subsequently underwent a double oophorectomy and a full hysterectomy, surgical procedures involving removal of my womb and both of my ovaries, which left me struggling with the symptoms of surgical menopause as well as the side effects of chemotherapy.
Throughout this time I received excellent care at the University College London Hospital (UCLH) and felt well informed about all procedures and treatments. However, I wanted to know what they weren’t telling me so I did the ill-advised thing of googling the statistics – and found out that the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer patients was just 45%.1
But it was in one of these online searches that I also came across the charity The Eve Appeal. They were the first charity I had come across that funded research into all five gynecological cancers and at the time they were focusing on driving awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms. Throughout my treatment, I frequently turned to this website as a source of information to help me understand and come to terms with what I was going through, as well as to raise awareness among my friends, family and colleagues … anyone I could get a few minutes with. I also began fundraising for The Eve Appeal, distributing information leaflets, putting posters up around the office and volunteering in various guises.
Currently, The Eve Appeal are funding some incredible research into gynecological cancers, including:
PROMISE (Preventing Risk of Ovarian Malignancies, Improved Screening and Early detection), which is looking at predicting risks, screening options and earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer2
FORECEE (4C), which is looking to develop a test to prevent four cancers – breast, uterine, ovarian and cervical – with promising early results3
PROTECTOR, which assesses the impact of a two-step surgery process for patients with ovarian cancer (removing just the fallopian tubes in the first stage, and then removing the ovaries in a later surgery, usually when the patient reaches natural menopause)4
In the UK, 58 women are diagnosed every day with a gynecological cancer and sadly, 21 of those will die from the disease.5 The Eve Appeal funds essential research into early diagnosis and prevention specifically, to improve the odds for patients like me. I was incredibly lucky to be diagnosed so early; my cancers were both stage I which significantly improved my expected outcomes. But for many women, the signs of gynecological cancers are overlooked or missed, or they simply don’t have any symptoms at all. To add to this, it is fairly common for ovarian cancer to be diagnosed at an advanced stage,6 a primary contributing factor to the low survival rates.7 The Eve Appeal’s ambition is to raise awareness and improve education on the symptoms of these cancers, because the earlier we can catch them, the better our chances of beating them.
I’m pleased to say that my sister and I are both cancer-free, and I hope that the work of The Eve Appeal will continue so that more people have the same ending that we had. The work they do across research and raising awareness is vital and I’m so proud that my company is supporting them with such a generous donation.
For more information about The Eve Appeal visit https://eveappeal.org.uk/
With permission of The Eve Appeal
1. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/ovarian-cancer/survival#heading-Zero accessed 27 February 2022
2. https://eveappeal.org.uk/our-research/our-research-programmes/promise-2016/ accessed 27 February 2022
3. Barrett JE, et al. Nat Commun 2022; 13:449. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-27918-w
4. http://protector.org.uk/information-for-participants/ accessed 27 February 2022
5. https://eveappeal.org.uk/about-us/support-the-eve-appeal/ accessed 27 February 2022
6. Doubeni CA, et al. Am Fam Physician 2016; 93(11):937-44
7. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/ovary.html accessed 27 February 2022
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