Some of you will remember me from being here a lot while my beautiful wife Angie faced life with OC. Sadly, so many of the lovely people I used to talk to, like Angie, are no longer here; having succumbed to the devastating effects of this horrible disease.
So many others will not remember me though as they weren't here at that time and that is simply a reality that makes me so sad.
When Angie was diagnosed in Dec 2012, neither she nor I had even heard of OC. For months before she experienced difficulty eating. She felt bloated and full after even the smallest of meals. Her periods were haphazard at best and at night she was constantly awakened by a need for the loo and plagued by hot sweats and flushes. At 47 years old, she put all these symptoms down to the early onset of menopause... if only she had known. While I suggested she go to the docs, I didn't insist. Why would I? I am a bloke and don't understand these things. She would just say, "I'm not. He'll only put me on hormone replacement therapy and I don't want that. It'll pass sooner or later." I just let it go; it was woman trouble... If only I had known.
So, If only WE had known, Angie might have been diagnosed so much sooner, but the problem doesn't end there. She finally sought medical help only when she noticed a lump in her abdomen and was in severe discomfort. The GP she saw assumed she had a hernia and ordered an ultrasound which would take a couple of weeks! This was in October and as time went by Angie's health deteriorated. She was finally diagnosed on Dec 10th, but only after the intervention of a second GP who recognised the symptoms for what they were. If only the first GP had realised what was presented to him.
Having read the above, you can understand why I feel raising awareness of OC symptoms is so crucial; not just among the public, but among health professionals too. The tragedy is that Angie's experience is far from unique. I will bet a pound to a penny that many of you have a similar story to tell.
I lost Angie on boxing day 2014, 2 years, 2 weeks and 2 days from her diagnosis, but before she died, thanks to this forum, we met some wonderful and inspirational people. People who not only supported us through the cancer journey, but became fast friends... family even. Not least of them was Gill Harler who recently posted about the awareness work we have been involved in with the little teal handbag cards. we are so proud of them as they are a great compliment to the awareness tools like symptom checker on Ovacomes website. There can never be too much material out there and Gill has been delighted that so many of you have been in touch with her since her post to help distributing them. To make it easier for everyone who wants to help, I have created a quick contact form on Gill's website. Just enter your details and we will send some handbags to you to place in your local area. gillharlerfund.org/help-us.php
Awareness is so important and doing my bit has been a comfort. I miss my Angie terribly, but I know she would encourage me to do all I can to help other women and their families avoid what she had to, and you all still endure. My love and best wishes to each and every one of you.