13 July 2021

Ovacome was honoured to be nominated by one of our members Jo for a BBC Radio 4 All In The Mind award. We were selected as one of the final three in our category, which meant that Jo and our Head of Support Anna were invited to a small, socially distanced award ceremony in London. With help from her hospital team, Jo was able to attend the awards evening, along with her husband and son. She shares how the evening went...

I was first diagnosed with low grade ovarian cancer 24 years ago. Now it’s terminal so my wonderful team and I are working out how to stabilise me and balance my quality of life with treatment.

I nominated Ovacome for the Radio 4 All In The Mind Award. For me it was a privilege to be able to, in some small way, acknowledge what a fab charity Ovacome is and to thank them for supporting my family and I for so long. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by the physical aspect of our disease but the toll it takes on our mental health is also immense.

Fantastically, from over 1,100 nominations, Ovacome got down to the final three. We were invited to the awards ceremony which felt a little daunting as it was to be in-person unless of course government guidelines changed… I like many others had been shielding for so long it was a bit scary. But the overriding feeling was that of excitement. So I planned my outfit, how we would get there, etc.

Then a week before the ceremony I was admitted into hospital! I must say it made me feel really sad that I couldn’t attend... or so I thought!

I didn’t bank on my fabulous oncologist. When I mentioned I was sad that I couldn’t attend the ceremony, she said: "I reckon if you are relatively stable we can let you go…"

Well mentally that gave me such a boost. Logistically it was a bit tricky but doable. I rang home and worked out what I needed brought into the hospital to give me my very own Cinderella moment. My poor husband came laden with stuff including my wheelchair pumpkin chariot, make up, wig, and outfit, to name but a few bits.

All I needed to do was remain stable. The ward staff and my fellow patients were amazing, everyone getting behind my planned escape. Nurses offered to help with my makeup and to get ready. The medical team disconnected me from my port and delayed the medication that made me feel groggy. One of my fellow bed mates was discharged the day before and as she was wheeled out of the room she shouted: "You will go to the ball Cinderella!".

The day arrived and I loved getting ready. It felt so strange to be out of the hospital gown at last! I hadn’t realised how weak and wobbly I was so very pleased I had my chariot and of course my very own Prince Charming to escort me! The added bonus was I would get to see my son who came home from his first year at uni a couple of days after I was admitted.

The evening was amazing, hosted by the wonderful Radio 4 team. It was lovely to see Anna and Alice from Ovacome in the flesh too. It was very humbling to be in a room with so many inspirational people.

We didn’t win the category but as much as it sounds like a cliche every nominee was a worthy winner.

After a few canapés (not for me sadly as I am now on total parenteral nutrition, which means that I not longer eat by mouth) it was time for me to return to my hospital bed…

I really did feel like Cinderella especially when changing back into my hospital gown. I was totally exhausted but so happy to have had and created such a wonderful memory for my husband and son.

You can listen to Jo and other Ovacome members talk about the charity's support services, as part of their All In The Mind nomination here.