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.
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.