We are a group of friends who swim in the mornings and when the wife of one of our group suffered a bad year with an ovarian cancer diagnosis this last year we decided to step up to a few challenges to help support her chosen charity. The table below shows the 3 challenges we have decided to do.

Frances our inspiration:

As a Veterinary Surgeon I have always worked hard to ensure the best possible outcome for the pets that are my patients and their owners throughout my long career. At 53 my dedication had led to owning and operating 2 veterinary practices with my husband Simon, so life was full on for us both. Starting work at 8.30am and often back home for 9pm and dinner, sleep and start again. I have always been fit and healthy, eating well, being health conscious, walking, running and practicing yoga. Nothing stopped me from getting out and about! Until ...

February 2023 when I started to notice the creep of tiredness and towards the end of that month some breathlessness. No other signs came to light until the 28th of February when I felt awful. Simon had been away on his motorbike to Uganda for two weeks. When he walked through the door our reunion was a trip to hospital! That’s how my journey began dealing with a high grade ovarian stage 4b advanced cancer. Our life went on immediate hold as we focused on the investigations and treatment ahead.

All your time is then consumed with your dogged determination to survive and your calendar changes from holidays, socialising and work commitments to hospital appointments- scans, scopes, drains, surgery and of course the dreaded chemo. The year of 2023 was mapped out before me and was out of my control. Having the support of Simon was incredibly beneficial as some women manage this horrible experience alone. It is devastating to imagine this. The positivity, friendship and support from old and new people in my life has been life affirming. Thank you all.

The main treatments are now over but the toll of twice daily medication and infusions every 3 weeks continues. Simon runs the veterinary practices on our behalf as I take time to reflect on life and do things in this precious time we call remission. My chosen charity that I hope we can raise funds for is Ovacome. Not one I was aware of until I needed it. They have been invaluable to me over this last year. They have provided one to one specialist nurse support; distraction by way of singing classes on line (muted microphones!); specialist guided exercise classes; community via educational days and the WhatsApp walking group; knowledge via research presentation and a library of webinars and documents...

I am deeply appreciative that Simon's swimming pals and the great group of people at the pool that he mixes with have taken on these challenges to raise money to support my chosen charity. I am truly humbled.

A little bit about Ovacome:

Ovarian cancer affects 7500 woman each year. Sadly 70% present at an advanced stage, i.e. the cancer has already spread. There is no screening programme yet unlike cervical, breast, prostate and bowel cancers.

Ovacome is the National UK ovarian cancer charity focused on providing support and information to anyone affected by ovarian cancer. This includes people who have either been diagnosed with the disease or think that they might be at risk, as well as their friends and family and healthcare professionals.

They are a strong community of many thousands of people, all working together with the aim of reducing isolation, sharing information, promoting knowledge and supporting anyone affected by ovarian cancer.

Every year they provide direct support to over 6,200 people through our support line and events. Nearly 80,000 people access our expert information materials.

Jonathan Thew