Three Brighton women with ovarian cancer encourage others, like them, to get the support they need

This March, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, three Brighton women are on a mission to encourage everyone affected by the condition to join their support group.
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Di Shipley, a former senior probation officer, Julie Bowden, an Argentine Tango teacher, and Delilah Hesling, a former nurse with over 20 years experience, set up their ovarian cancer support group last year after meeting during treatment for the condition at the Royal Sussex University Hospital.

This month, they aim to reach out to everyone with ovarian cancer in the area to ensure that they all receive the support they need so that no one living with the condition feels they must cope with it alone.

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Di says: “We’re all part of this exclusive club that no one would choose to be a member of, but we have found great comfort in meeting every month and from sharing our thoughts and feelings with others in the same situation. We have gathered a wealth of information about treatments and ways of coping with side effects for example to share so even if people can’t meet in person we’d encourage you to get in touch.

Di with Julie and Delilah at the Macmillan Horizon Centre in BrightonDi with Julie and Delilah at the Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton
Di with Julie and Delilah at the Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton

“We want to ensure that everyone who could benefit from this type of support knows how to find it.

“We have plans to get on the radio and local TV and are working with The Trust for Developing Communities (TDC) in Brighton to reach diverse communities as well as with Macmillan’s primary care nurse facilitators working with GP surgeries throughout the county.”

Delilah who leads the patient support group at Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton adds: “We are pleased with the way our group has grown and developed over the short time we have been meeting but know that there may be more people suffering in silence in our community and want to make sure we reach them all. Everyone affected by ovarian cancer is welcome to join the group no matter what your age, cultural background, or sexual identity.”

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Julie who had to give up her career as a travel agent and tree surgeon as well as her role at The Appropriate Adult Service (TAAS), continues to teach the Argentine Tango in Hove and says:“Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose so most people discover they have it by accident and often when the disease is quite advanced. We were all diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, so our treatment and prognoses have been quite challenging. I have now started a trial at Guys Hospital in London and Delilah is waiting to discover what treatment options remain open to her. We know we are not alone in receiving this type of news which is why we want to ensure others can access the support we have given each other and have found so helpful.

“Our friends and families have been great but sometimes it’s really helpful to talk with people going through the same thing as you as these conversations can be franker and more honest which those close to you can find hard to handle. With Spring approaching we plan to organise some days out so we can have fun too! We also have an active WhatsApp group to keep in touch and share information between group meetings.”

To learn more about the Ovarian Cancer Support group at the Macmillan Horizon Centre please email [email protected].

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