Pip Bishop and Chris Hodgkiss, the creative minds behind ‘I Will Survive’, introduce their friend VJ – the campaign’s inspiration and driving force.
"When VJ was diagnosed with ovarian cancer six years ago, her prognosis was pretty bleak. But VJ took on her disease with the same intelligence, passion, boundless energy and humour as she did everything in life. When her first round of treatment didn’t work, she went to Switzerland for experimental immunotherapy in 2016, which gave her three years of good health. She didn’t waste it. In those three years she climbed sand dunes in Namibia, joined evening prayers in Varanasi, partied under a full moon in Tulum, visited friends in New Zealand, San Fran, Moscow and Spain, attended six weddings, numerous milestone birthdays and celebrations with family and friends.
When the disease returned, she made it her mission to change the survival odds for the next generation. This was typical VJ, selflessly making something good out of a tragic situation.
She knew it was too late for her, but saw research as the answer for the future. When Cary Wakefield joined Ovarian Cancer Action as CEO, VJ spotted her opportunity, as they’d worked together at the BBC. She had an idea about making a pledge for the next generation and the powerful campaign you see now all came from her initial vision.
It was very difficult to say no to VJ, whether it was another glass of red, an impromptu karaoke session or a project as important as this one. She quickly got Emily James (another ex-colleague) onboard as strategist and persuaded us to develop the creative idea. We then embarked on the herculean task of persuading the great and the good of the advertising world to help us make it happen. The respect VJ earned through her years in the industry paid off and we were overwhelmed and humbled when people flocked to offer their help.
And through it all, VJ was there in the wings, keeping the vision alive. And bossing us all about in her own inimitable way.
This was her way of making sure something positive came out of her diagnosis, channelling her energy into trying to make it better for the next generation. We think it eased her pain to think that Ovarian Cancer Action might solve the ovarian cancer crisis in a generation because of this campaign. And this is her legacy."