The purpose of our campaign is simple...to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Of course we could simply print posters or leaflets, but though important, we felt that wasn't enough. Once read such things are unfortunately quickly forgotten. We wanted to produce a campaign that offered something tangible, something to touch that would keep the awareness message alive. After much thought and deliberation and with the help and assistance of a wide variety of people, we devised, "Keep it in your bag" launched to coincide with ovarian cancer awareness month in March 2016.
The 'keep it in your bag' card is in an attractive clutch bag design. This convenient little card (slightly smaller than a credit card) is perfect to fit in any handbag or purse as a constant reminder of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Our hope is that rather than reading and throwing it away, as might be done with an ordinary leaflet, women will hold on to them. In doing so, not only will the holder have a constant reference for herself, but will be able to show it to family or friends, especially if any of the symptoms are being experienced.
Once the card is fully opened, the main message is revealed. We use the acronym 'A-C-T now' because the importance of doing so can't be understated. The sooner women experiencing these symptoms seek medical advice, the higher the chance of detecting any cancer early.
The letter 'A' gives a list of all the main symptoms of ovarian cancer. While it isn't an exhaustive list of the symptoms different patients experience, most would agree they had at least one of these, and probably more, prior to diagnosis.
Reading the symptoms, it is not hard to realise why ovarian cancer is often called, the silent killer. The symptoms are common to other conditions, indeed a lot of women will no doubt experience some of them periodically throughout their lives. The difference with ovarian cancer symptoms is that they are there consistently. They don't come and go. That is why we used the letter 'C' for 'consistent', but perhaps more importantly for 'concern'. No one knows a woman's body like she does herself. If she is experiencing any of the symptoms and it is not normal for her, then it is important to heed the next letter in our acronym.
On opening the bag (or rather the front flap of the card), two important messages are revealed. The first refers to ovarian cancer symptoms and the need to be aware. The second is an associated message which aims to challenge an important misconception. While cervical smear tests are hugely important, contrary to wide belief, they can not detect ovarian cancer. There is no national screening programme for ovarian cancer, so only when symptoms are presented can any investigation even be done. It is crucial that women are aware of this fact and so encouraged to monitor their own health in relation to this disease.
The letter 'T' is perhaps the most important. Talking to a doctor about symptoms and concerns is the key to achieving early diagnosis. In turn, early diagnosis means successful treatment is much easier to achieve. Being aware of the not so silent symptoms and being informed enough to act now really could save lives.