We all have them. Maybe it’s more of a cream shade than a pure white. Maybe yours is a lacy number for special dinners, maybe yours is a soft draping one with beautiful buttons or maybe your one is a crisp white with darts. Perhaps you have a favourite one with a slight stain from your food-stained toddler giving you a cuddle but you wear it under a jumper for the collar only. Perhaps your shirt can be worn with faded jeans as well as your best black work skirt. But does your white shirt save lives?
My friend Leane was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April last year, was operated on in May and spent six months going through chemotherapy. She received excellent results in January this year, but then found out the cancer had come back last month. Now she is waiting for more tests before her next treatment will be determined.
Leane is an Ambassador for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF), and featured as a model in the Witchery white shirt campaign. Isn’t she gorgeous? Witchery have designed several white shirts to raise funds for ovarian cancer – 100% of proceeds go towards ovarian cancer research.
Leane is passionate about sharing her story with other women, as early detection plays a key part in saving lives.
In Leane’s words …
Did you realise that currently there is no way of detecting ovarian cancer? A lot of women mistakenly believe that a PAP smear will detect ovarian cancer but this is not the case; it is only useful for cervical cancer. Most ovarian cancers are not found until they are very advanced because there are no obvious symptoms and by the time any symptoms are felt it is usually too late. One woman dies from ovarian cancer every ten hours. The symptoms can be confused with small concerns like bloating, frequent urination, change in appetite or pelvic pain.
This disease can strike any woman at any time. It is not restricted to menopausal women, or women who are elderly. It is not restricted to women who are overweight or unhealthy. It is not restricted to women with a history of gynaecological cancers. It strikes indiscriminately and without warning.
I have always been conscious of my health and had all my usual health check ups each year. I exercise regularly and try to eat healthily. When I was diagnosed I had no idea that I was carrying 3 large tumours in my abdomen and was in an advanced stage of cancer. As women we are designed to accommodate growth and my feelings of being bloated and the need to urinate more frequently were attributed to menopause. Most of the women I have met since being diagnosed have very similar stories to mine.
By sharing my story and raising awareness in a small way, I am making a difference and hopefully saving other women from having to go through the anguish of being diagnosed with a cancer that is incurable. Selfishly, sharing my story is also helping me to come to terms with my uncertain future and gives me some meaning to what I have been through.
If you experience any unusual symptoms consistently for more than two weeks, go and see your doctor. The worst thing that can happen is that they confirm nothing is wrong with you!
The research is now focused on early detection because if found in the early pre-symptom stages ovarian cancer has a 90% full recovery rate. It is also focused on treatment for women like me with the hope that one day ovarian cancer will be a chronic disease that can be managed and may not result in a shortened life.
Funds raised go towards ongoing research because there is still so much they don’t know about ovarian cancer. The recurrence rate is extremely high and the survival rate is extremely low – one in every 4 women diagnosed will survive 5 years. With statistics like these we need as much research as possible. There is currently no government funding.
Thank you, Leane.
I love the lace shirt with the pointy sleeves, Fran bought the same shirt with the pleated overlay that Leane wears in the above photo. Caroline was given the soft white dotted shirt for her birthday. Lissa wears the basic white shirt in a variety of ways.
Behind these white shirts are many, many women like Leane, who are continuing to work, care for their families, speak up about their experience with ovarian cancer and rearrange their lives around their many appointments and treatments.
Leane’s husband went to school with my husband. We have been friends for over twenty years. Leane gave me a lot of confidence as a new mother as her third daughter is the same age as Mr 14. We have celebrated new jobs, houses, blogs and babies. We have swapped books and clothes and recipes. Our men cycle together; we walk together. When we walk together, our tongues move faster than our legs! Leane has been that empowering friend – who makes me feel I can do anything, and believes in the importance of both the small and big moments.
Please buy a Witchery white shirt – 100% of proceeds go directly to the Ovarian Cancer Foundation. Tuesday 8th May is the official Witchery white shirt day – look out for women wearing their white shirts with pride, grace and compassion.