Put Yourself in the Picture

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d be working with a few charities close to my heart this year. Jo’s Trust is one that really matters to me. I’ll share with you why, before telling you about their latest campaign…

Kelli called me a week before her wedding. It was the day before Christmas Eve, 2009, and I never dreamt it’d be for the reasons she called. She was ringing round and letting people know that the week before, she’d found out that she had cervical cancer. She wanted to tell people in advance, so that it needn’t be talked about on her big day. The last time I’d seen her, we’d been chatting excitedly about the possibility of her having a honeymoon baby, as I’d just had Boo and she adored her. Now she was on the phone talking to me about having her eggs harvested at 7am on her wedding day, and going in for a hysterectomy a week later, instead of off to Australia on her honeymoon. I put the phone down and cried.

Her operation went smoothly, a relief. Her surgeon assured her that they’d beaten the cancer, all removed, and that she needn’t have any further treatment. Her oncologist recommended internal radiotherapy to be on the safe-side, so she did. It was painful, but she remained upbeat as she’d beaten it and was recovering well, apart from a pain at the top of her thigh that was giving her trouble walking. She talked to me about getting back to work, and joined my team as a Phoenix trader the week after I did, as she saw it as something positive to keep her mind whirring while she recuperated. And then I got the second devastating phone call from her. The cancer was back. Both her oncologist and surgeon were shocked, and talked about how aggressive it was. Another operation, that saw her fitted with a colostomy bag for life, a round of gruelling chemotherapy and more pain.

Determined to go on that honeymoon, they went shortly after their one year wedding anniversary, a couple of weeks after her treatment ended. She was pleased to have gone, to have given her husband a break, too, despite the fact that a week of it was spent in an Australian hospital, which involved an emergency flying doctors journey for her. Back home, she had the all-clear. She talked to me about their research into surrogacy. She was waiting to get a year’s all-clear before starting down that route. She was getting involved with Jo’s Trust, active in their support forums and looking to volunteer, as she’d started a counselling course shortly before her diagnosis. She had her first Phoenix event, and was excitedly telling me about how much she enjoyed it, though she was exhausted afterwards. Things were looking up.

Despite having the all-clear, the cancer had taken it’s toll on her, mind and body. She was back in and out of hospital, as she fought off infections and complication arising from her surgeries. She lost so much weight, and this was a woman who was at the gym all the time, and ate phenomenally well prior to this, so she could barely afford to lose a few pounds, let alone stones. She struggled to eat, her appetite virtually non-existent. I found myself trying to think of foods to tempt her when she came round for lunch one day. That day. The last day I saw her.

She never got that all-clear. At 34 years of age, married for 19 months, she died, July 2011. She was a truly wonderful person,  I loved her and I miss her.

I can’t bring her back. I know that. So I look around and try to figure out what I can do. Jo’s Trust meant something to Kelli, so it means something to me. Which is why I’m here sharing with you their latest campaign.

Kirsty_Leigh_Porter_and_Natasha-Porter_JCCT_Put_yourself_in_the_picture3...The Put Yourself In The Picture campaign, aims to put women in the picture on why they need to attend cervical screening. To get involved visit www.jostrust.org.uk/selfie to pledge to attend cervical screening and check out the campaign which will see a new Put Yourself In The Picture app coming soon.

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, commented; “Every day in the UK, eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly three die of the disease. A cervical screening test only takes five minutes but could save a woman’s life. With uptake for cervical screening declining we want to put women in the picture when it comes to cervical cancer prevention and reverse this downward trend. Sadly we support too many women who have had to go through more invasive treatment due to a later diagnosis which may have been avoided had the lady attended screening when invited.”

Please take just 3 minutes to watch this video, and then make that pledge. Please.

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59 thoughts on “Put Yourself in the Picture”

  1. I’m so so sorry for your loss. Such a young age. I’ve liked the Facebook page and actually this post has reminded me to get checked soon as I haven’t had a smear since M was born. Will be phoning the doctor tomorrow to book an appointment. Sending you hugs xxx

  2. this is heartbreaking, life can be so cruel 🙁 i love that you r doing something to raise awareness of how important smear tests are, i hope it makes ppl bite the bullet and get it done. this is such a lovely tribute to your friend x

  3. This story is heartbreaking. Five years ago, as a result of a routine smear, I was found to have CIN3 cells. I had to have a procedure to have them removed, and then I’ve had annual smears since to monitor the situation. I’ve been clear since. And the bloody great bit…it’s all done, for free, on the NHS. Honestly, I don’t know why people put smear tests off. They are hardly a picnic, but they can save your life.

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss, she sounds like she was a very brave lady. Such a lovely post for your friend. Great way to prompt ladies to go get checked, well done to you x

  5. So sorry for your loss, what a brave girl your friend was. I have to admit I was one of those girls who put off her smear test but after getting a bollocking from my husband I went and couldn’t believe the fuss I’d built up in my head over it. I’d never miss one now, the repercussions are potentially too severe, and far outweigh a few minutes mild embarassment! x

    1. Thank you. So pleased your husband made you go! I think the problem is people do imagine it to be hellish & it’s really not at all. As you now know! Thanks very much for taking the time to comment and share your story x

  6. That is such a sad story. I’m sitting here in tears. It reminds me that I must stop putting off my overdue cervical smear as I am supposed to have them more regularly at this point after going through colposcopy a couple of years ago due to abnormal cells being found. I’m also reminded of Jade Goody – this awful disease takes down women so young and full of life and yes, you’re right cervical screening is soooo important. My dad is about to undergo treatment (radiotherapy) for prostate cancer this month so this hits home right now.

  7. So sad 🙁 I don’t understand with all the campaigns etc why they are still not allowing so many people to have smears, I’ve been asking since 2009 when my son was born, I’d already been sexually active for 6 years before that and women in my family have had breast and cervical cancer. But no. I’m not old enough to need a smear. I know you can go private, and I know the false positives are high in younger women but still I think the age should be lowered.

    1. No, you’re right. And the real travesty is that so many people who are entitled to free ones don’t bother to go. Senseless. My friend did, actually, but she was just one of the very unlucky ones.

  8. Oh Jocelyn this is so sad, how tragic. I am up to date and really believe it is so important. It’s no fun but worth a few minutes of discomfort to give you peace of mind and possibly save your life. Will share xx

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  10. I am so sorry for your loss… Kelli seems to have been such a strong, determined person. Your post is also a great reminder for women to get checked when they ought to do. x Mel

  11. Oh Jocelyn, I’m so sorry for your heartbreaking loss. Reading this post has made me think that I can’t remember the last time I had a smear so I’d better phone the doctor to check as it must be due soon. Fantastic cause to support x

  12. Oh my gosh I’m so sorry for your the loss of your friend. She put up such a brave fight. It hit home with me very very hard when my friend one day was diagnosed with it. Just like that out of the blue. She’s been through rounds and rounds of radiotherapy and it made me realise how important and life saving smear tests are. Xx

  13. I am so very very deeply sorry for your loss. I am off to like facebook page. I am all caught up, I always am. I think it’s important and too many put it off because it’s uncomfortable and awful but the latter is worse if only we were reminded of that like you have done here. Thanks.

  14. I’m so sorry I missed this post the first time round, thank you so much for linking it up with #ThePrompt. I’m so sorry for your loss, but what a brilliant post to raise awareness. I made sure I had a smear before we left the UK, so that I didn’t have to worry about it straight away over here – but I really must register with a doctor!

    1. Thank you, and yes, we are lucky to have them free over here, so I just wish people all took advantage of that. Hoping this post serves as a useful reminder x

  15. So very sad 🙁 I’m so sorry. Kelli sounded like a strong and determined lady. I hadn’t heard of this campaign – it sounds like a truly worthwhile one. Another reason why the Saatchi Bill is so important. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

  16. I had my smear test on Monday morning, whilst driving to the appointment I heard on the radio that an alarming number of ‘first time’ smear women actually delay having this test. Total and utter madness. I’m so sorry for your loss, I know someone else who lost her best friend the same way a couple of years ago – such a tragedy.

  17. What a tragedy, I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Jo’s Trust are an amazing charity though and doing something which is much needed. It is something which isn’t talked about enough and which women put off because they fear it’s going to be uncomfortable, hope this can be changed! #theprompt

  18. I am so very sorry for your loss my dear. I am typing through tears but just wanted to say that this is a beautiful blog written for and about your friend and Jo’s Trust. I keep putting off having a smear done just because I am always doing something else. I will make an appointment tomorrow. Thank you, and may your friend and all those who we have lost to this and all cancers rest in peace.

    1. Thank you. I’m so pleased to have prompted one more person to get that appointment booked in. They’re so easily overlooked, but so important. Thanks for your lovely words x

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