I have so much to say on this subject that I don’t exactly know where to start. It’s so important, so extremely close to my heart.
This isn’t a sponsored post, I’ve not been asked to write it and no I didn’t get it sent to me free in the post!
It’s written for my beloved Mum and every other woman who went through / or is going through what she did. It is to raise awareness.
So I’ll start with Maureen …
Who is she?
Maureen [drumroll …] is what my friends and I call our vaginas , 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, slightly ridiculous conversation with ‘the girls’ it got christened. Oh how we laughed and the name stuck.
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 back I guess 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 her ] , 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, vicious Mum receives the awful news that 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 our 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 had been feeling extremely helpless, guilty that I was so bloody useless…more than anything I just wanted to do something. I wanted to use my voice / the little internet space I occupy to do some good. I would do anything to stop other ladies going through the same.
Since we lost Mum , my life has quite literally flipped on its head, at times it doesn’t even seem real. Nothing’s changed yet 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 must 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 Vaginas , Vulvas and Wombs !
Let’s raise awareness.
Vaginal cancer is one of 5 Gynaecological Cancers you can be diagnosed with.
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; my mum herself had no symptoms [ that she was aware of ] but after she passed an unusually large mass of blood and mucus that had a strong, unpleasant smell she went straight to see her GP. She didn’t hang about… 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. My mum had regular smears . 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 have your smear. Please , please, please ensure you attend when you are invited. I know it’s not nice sitting with your legs akimbo while somebody insets a spatula in you …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.HERE
What better way to start the conversation, than to walk around with a big Vulva 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.
* linking up with #brilliantblogposts linkup