In what ways did the discovery that you had cancer change your life?
In every way. It changes your entire existence. I think differently about pretty much everything. I am the most compassionate person I know, I have the ability to help a lot of people and offer them hope, but I never do anything at my expense. I do everything whole heartedly but mindfully and I’m honest to the core now, with my words, feelings, with everything. Nothing is unresolved.
Do you find there is any stigma in discussing gynaecological cancers or other aspects of women’s health?
Yes. I do a bit of public speaking about it and talk to my friends about it all quite openly and they in turn tell others. I have a Facebook page and other avenues where I put stuff out there. But like I say, I had ovarian cancer which is getting more and more socially acceptable by the day, I can shout from the roof tops that I survived ovarian cancer – but who is going to talk about vagina or vulva cancer? It just brings a picture to people’s heads that they don’t want to imagine.
Is there anything that you would encourage women to do if they were in a similar position to you but nervous about approaching someone about something like cancer?
Be brave. If something is not right for your body, if there is a nagging feeling in your head that something is wrong, get it checked out. If you can’t, tell a friend and make them take you. So much can be done if you catch these things early.
If you could say anything to young women about what you have learnt on your journey and throughout your life so far what would it be?
Know your body. Be aware of how your body works, stay as healthy as you can from as young as you can. Get a GP that you are comfortable with and stick to that person. Your history needs to be in one place, not a bunch of medical centres because it’s convenient. Have medical check-ups as they are suggested or required. Know your body – know your risk. Laugh. Don’t stress the small stuff. Fall madly in love. Smile. Exercise. Get a pet. Have great girlfriends. Love what you do.