What motivated you to volunteer at OCA?
I felt angry and frustrated about the lack of awareness of ovarian cancer and wanted to do something to make a difference. I’d also met amazing women on an ovarian cancer forum when I was diagnosed at stage 4 almost three years ago. Sadly many of them have been taken far too early. I feel I owe it to them to do all I can.
Although raising awareness of symptoms is important, I believe that research is key and I am impressed by the projects OCA are funding, including trying to find an effective screening tool and an answer to why patients become resistant to chemotherapy.
What does your volunteer role involve?
My role changes depending on the up-and-coming projects and who needs support, which is great because I’ve got to know most of the fantastic team.
I started by sharing my story online, which led to me speaking at a women’s health event in London and doing my first Walk In Her Name event. I then started going into the office to help organise volunteers for the Christmas bucket collections which were great fun, so I continued to help out with finding volunteers for collections in March for awareness month. This year I also helped put together and send out packs of awareness materials and was asked to join a group to give feedback on information to go on the Patient Hub.
What's been your highlight of volunteering at OCA so far?
Volunteering at OCA has been great for me in so many ways that it’s hard to pick one thing!
But I’ll never forget being in the office one day and meeting Allyson Kaye MBE, Ovarian Cancer Action’s President and hearing the emotional story of how OCA came about after her father had to travel the world to find the best treatment for her mother when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 30 years ago.
I also had the privilege of meeting Mara, one of the research team at the University of Oxford, to ask questions about her latest work.
After going through my shock stage 4 diagnosis and the trauma of treatment I had lost a lot of confidence and was struggling to find a new sense of purpose, as I’d already decided I was not going back to the stress of being a primary school teacher. Volunteering has definitely helped clear some of the brain fog!
Being part of the successful 33,000 White Roses Campaign this year was amazing and I helped out with finding some of the many volunteers needed across the country. Most recently I was also asked to do some research looking at branding and marketing which took me right back to my days prior to children when I used to be a product manager.
I also just love the opportunity to talk to strangers about ovarian cancer symptoms and have amazed myself that I feel confident to do this. It’s great being a small part of OCA and gives me hope for the future to know that there is such an enthusiastic and passionate team determined to make a difference.
Would you like to share your story and help raise awareness of ovarian cancer? Please get in touch with Tori@ovarian.org.uk, we would love to hear from you.