"We raised over £1,300 for wonderful work to help my children’s futures and mine"

Jo Stanford Walk In Her Name

Our Cancer Prevention Officer Jo held a Walk In Her Name in memory of her mother. She talks about the day and why it is so important to her to raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Action.

“March is always a poignant month for me, having lost my mum to ovarian cancer on 21st March 2006.

After my husband and brother did the Ovarian Cancer Action’s ManPower cycle last year from Glasgow to London in her memory, I thought it was my turn to do my bit!

So on 18th March I did a half-marathon walk through Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, an area of natural beauty, and had eight friends (and two dogs!) join me.

The day itself started great. After I’d forced my friends to let me cover them in stickers and balloons, I grabbed my walking poles and we set off.

Unfortunately, as it turns out we walked two miles in the completely wrong direction and only realised when we got to a dead end!

I take no responsibility for this, as I had outsourced the map reading to one of my friends…

Once we got on the right path, we got some pace up and enjoyed the scenery despite the drizzle. A stop for a picnic and some “Walk in her Name” biscuits (and prosecco) gave us a bit of energy and kept us going.

I even took up the challenge of a sprint finish at the end – harder than it sounds after all those miles and holding poles! My friend’s little boy joined us for the last few miles on his bike, which shows that anyone can get involved in Walk in Her Name. 

We raised over £1,300, which I know is going towards wonderful work to help my children’s futures and mine.

It’s really important to me to raise funds and awareness for Ovarian Cancer Action, because I inherited a BRCA1 mutation from my mum. This gave me an 87% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 40-60% risk of ovarian cancer.

I’ve reduced my risk of breast cancer by having a preventative double mastectomy two years ago but am not able to do anything at the moment to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer. I’m too young at 33 to have my ovaries removed, and there is little in the way of screening at the current time.

Ovarian Cancer Action puts vital funds into research to improve things for BRCA mutation carriers, and to raise awareness of testing which in turn helps save lives.

We need reliable screening tools to allow us to catch cancer earlier, and to understand why some people with BRCA mutations get cancer and some people don’t.

It’s important that people take the time to look into their family history and know what they are entitled to in terms of genetic testing, because this knowledge gives us the power to act before we get cancer.

We weren’t aware of my mum’s BRCA mutation before her diagnosis and maybe if we had been she would still be here now.

I’m hopeful that by the time my children grow up there will be progress, but in the meantime all I can do is make sure they, and the rest of my family, are aware of their risks and what to look out for.”

Visit our BRCA hub to find out more about genetic mutations and hereditary risk.