Let’s talk about ‘Our Maureen’…

Our Maureen.

I have so much to say on this subject that I don’t even know where to start. It’s so important, so close to my heart.

This isn’t sponsored, I’ve not been asked to write it and I didn’t get it sent to me free in the post!

It’s for my Mum and every other woman who went through / or is going through what she did. It’s to raise awareness.

So I’ll start with Maureen  …

Who is she?

Maureen [drumroll …] is what I call my vagina , other wise commonly referred too as your muff / tuppence / fanny / pussy / me-me / Mary or Fairy … long story short on a drunken holiday , during a drunken conversation with ‘the girls’ it got christened. Oh how we laughed.

I’ve no idea why we were even talking about our vaginas , back then I don’t know why we did a lot of things!

[ thinking about it it could have been that time I shaved all my pubic hair off.  I was bald as a coot and couldn’t look at myself down there  for weeks, it resembled a plucked chicken! ]

Not that we ever really did [ talk about it] , but we could if we wanted discuss our Maureen’s in public, safe in the knowledge nobody really knew what we were talking about. Our Aunt maybe?

Fast forward 25 years and my beautiful Mum receives the awful news she has vaginal cancer. We joked about it at first [that’s what we as a family do as a coping mechanism] ‘Miss Funny Fanny ‘ but then reality kicks in , the illness takes over and the humour can only take us so far. I’ve spoken about it a lot. You can read more about her and our journey // HERE 

In July this year , 5 years after her initial diagnosis, we lost her to the bloody evil disease. She was just 72.

Ever since that awful day, [months before even ] I’d been feeling helpless, guilty that I was so bloody useless…more than anything I wanted to do something. I wanted to use my voice / the little internet space I occupy to do good. Anything to stop other ladies going through the same as what Mum did.

Since we lost Mum , my life has quite literally flipped on its head, at times it doesn’t even seem real. Nothing’s changed but everything has changed.

Most days I feel as though I’m living in a parallel universe. I wake up some  mornings and I temporarily forget she’s not here . I think to myself I’ve got to ring Mum to tell her this, tell her that. The realization she’s not here  hurts every bit as much today as it did 3 months ago.

The first thing that shocked me when I mentioned vaginal cancer on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago was the number of private messages I received from ladies of all ages stating they didn’t even know vaginal cancer existed… would I talk about it more?

I suppose we don’t talk about it and that’s where the problem lies. Our vaginas are to some extent still a taboo subject.

So let’s get the conversation started.

Let’s talk muffs !

Let’s raise awareness.

Vaginal cancer is one of 5 Gynaecological Cancers you can be diagnosed with.

Yep 5!

The other 4 are womb, ovarian, cervical and vulval. 

Awareness levels of these cancers is very low, something I’m discovering myself. In the UK alone each year, there are over 21,000 women given the news that they have a form of gynae cancer.

I always say you know your body better than anybody else. If you think something is a-miss go and see your doctor. Get yourself checked over.

Its often referred to as the silent killer and my mum herself had no symptoms [ that she was aware of ] but after she passed a large mass of blood and mucus which smelt unpleasant she went straight to see her GP. She didn’t wait… she went the very next day.

We understand this was the main body of the tumour breaking away.

As with most cancers the earlier you act the better your chances of survival. My mum acted straight away but devastatingly was still one of the unlucky ones. Cancer has no rules. Had mum not got checked out we don’t know how long she would have had with us…

As a women of 25 and over, you are routinely invited to have a smear test.  I say invited because you don’t have to attend. It is undertaken to prevent cervical cancer, not to diagnose cancer. As far as I am aware , and after questioning my doctors on various occasions, I am advised no other Gynae cancers are picked up during your smear.

It is still so important that you attend. Please , please, please go. It’s not nice sitting with your legs akimbo while somebody insets a spatula in you I know …but it could potentially save your life and it literally takes minutes.

This fabulous, straightforward video and information page from the Eve Appeal explains the 5 gynae cancers in simple and straightforward terms. It highlights the symptoms and what to look for [better than I ever could].

Please head over and watch  // HERE 

There are a number of fabulous charities I have stumbled upon while researching this post. These are all doing their part to raise awareness and raise funds for research

Eve Appeal  – “every day in the UK, 58 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer and 21 will die. The Eve Appeal is determined to change this for the future of women everywhere.

Lady Garden Campaign –  “is a campaign by a group of British women on a mission to change the future of female cancers. We think it’s time to change that. Don’t you? Our mission is to empower women everywhere to talk more openly – without shyness or shame.”

I spotted these t-shirts while I was browsing; I bought one which I have been proudly wearing . I bought this online from Selfridges.


This one was designed by non other than Naomi Campbell .

There are a selection of others to choose from all co-designed by Simeon Farrar of Black Score with Suki Waterhouse, Charlotte Tilbury and Cara, Poppy & Chloe Delevigne.

They cost £28 each [plus p+p] and 100% of the profit goes directly to the Gynaecological Cancer Fund and research at the Royal Marsden. You can buy yours // HERE // HERE

What better way to start the conversation, than to walk around with a big vagina on your chest! The first day I wore mine I was quizzed as to why I had a woman’s bits on the front of my t-shirt. See it works.

The more we talk , the less of a taboo it becomes… and luckily for you I bloody love talking.

Please join in the conversation , share this post, buy a t-shirt – anything ! let’s just be more aware of our bodies.

Let’s look out for each other.

Lets talk.

 

Tracey x


* linking up with #brilliantblogposts linkup


12 thoughts on “Let’s talk about ‘Our Maureen’…

  1. Morgan Prince says:

    Oh Tracey, I’m so sorry you lost your mum. I have to agree with you though about raising awareness – at 36 years old I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and it really shocked me. Like your mum I had no symptoms and it was picked up during my routine smear test (which I’d delayed). I am one of the lucky ones and they managed to catch it before it grew too big, they cut it out and I am now cancer free. But the biggest thing that shocked me about it all was when the doctor told me that nearly 60% of women don’t go for their smear test! We really need to talk about these cancers and make more women aware.
    I had no idea there was vaginal cancer, I did know about cervical and ovarian cancer but that’s it. Thank you for opening my eyes. 🙂
    Sending much love. xxx

    • lizandtracey says:

      Morgan, I’m so sorry you had to go through all this but I’m absolutely thrilled your cancer free.
      I honestly can’t believe people don’t go for their smears, it is embarrassing but so worth it.
      I’ve had a message today from a lady who hasn’t been going for her smear but after reading my post has booked to go. This alone made this worth writing. Thankyou for popping across and commenting xxx

  2. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for sharing something so private. I will be posting this onto our Menopause Facebook Group, as we talk so often about Vagina’s, and this is something else we need to address x

    • lizandtracey says:

      Thankyou Lovely. It’s so important. After instagramming about it I was shocked by how little ladies knew on the subject. I had ladies messaging me for more info. Really appreciate you reading & commenting xxx

  3. Karen says:

    I’m actually shocked there are 5 different kinds! I was only aware of 3…
    Thanks for raising my awareness. All because your Vag t-shirt caught my eye.
    Sending much love Trace, this time of year is bloody tough I’m not going to lie xx

    • lizandtracey says:

      Hi Karen,
      Thank you for commenting.I’m glad my t-shirt caught your eye. I only wised up myself when mum got really sick as I wanted to know is there was anything i could do. I was initially shocked as I only though their was ovarian and womb cancer myself. It is something I’m learning not many people are aware of. If i can highlight it to hand full of people then my work is done. Than you for taking the time to leave a message and thank you , Tracey xx

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