This year there have many issues covered in Women2day, and as we reach the end of 2015, I thought I would recap on some of the ones that made an impact.
Back in February, I wrote about the legacy of Debbie Purdy who won a landmark ruling to be able to take her own life after a long battle with multiple sclerosis (MS).
When Debbie died just before Christmas 2014 at the age of 51 after refusing to eat, reading her story again made me want to look at MS in more detail, and I discovered there are a number of self-help groups out there that to bring MS sufferers together, helping them to share common life experiences for support, education and mutual aid.
Joining groups like this can help MS sufferers feel empowered and more self confident in coping with the challenges they face in their everyday life, as well as enable them to learn new information and coping strategies, and give them the opportunity to help others.
Also in February, I featured the story of Lucy Rushton (now Jones).
Having always felt strongly about the importance of smear test awareness, I had previously featured stories of women’s own experiences highlighting the dangers of putting off their tests, which inspired lots of women to book their tests.
I firmly believed every woman should have the right to a smear test despite where they lived but knew there were hundreds of women who had signs of cervical cancer but were unable to get a test simply because of where they lived, and others simply not booking tests because of being afraid.
Then I heard of Lucy, who had desperately wanted a smear test after having pre cancerous cells.
Her GP had recommended she get one yet the laboratory refused as she was still not due for one. She was forced to get one privately and sure enough, was diagnosed with cancer.
She was able to get the right treatment and I believe Lucy would not be alive today without that test. We decided we’d do everything we could to try and get as much support possible to help change the law so women are able to get smear tests if their GP gives the green light.
The family of Sorcha Glenn in Northern Ireland (who was in a similar situation to Lucy) but sadly died, had set up a petition to garner 100,000 signatures to get the issue debated in Parliament to change the law.
At the time they had 60,000 so I decided to join this as a ‘Chronicle campaign’ to get them to 100,000 – and we had such a positive reaction with Lucy’s story that only two months the petition had surpassed 100,000.
The issue was debated by the Backbench Business Committee in the House of Commons by Prime Minister David Cameron and we’re hoping the law may well change. Amazingly, Lucy has been given the all clear now and she and I are still very keen to keep the awareness of getting your smear test in the public domain.
In March I was contacted by a local woman who had recently seen her rapist jailed for 10 years and went through a period of blaming herself for the experience. She said she had no clue with what to do in the aftermath of the rape and wanted to share her story anonymously to help other women going through the same things.
The brave lady came in to speak to me and in parts the interview was tearful but her message was clear – she wanted to use her experience to benefit others.
We did a feature about the consequences of rape – ‘What would you do if your friend rang you up and said she’d been raped?’.
The lady had a friend who worked for a victim support organisation so was lucky that she was able to direct her to the right places, but she was concerned for other victims who would not know where to turn for support.
I also explored the issue of infertility , featuring the story of one South Cheshire woman who had struggled for years to conceive.
Sarah had found it very difficult at the lack of support for people facing the condition, and she felt infertility was classed as a taboo subject with people not wanting to talk about it.
This inspired her to set up a support group that offers support and provides information on the associated conditions and support.
The group meet periodically across the year to allow people to meet face to face, share their stories, worries and concerns, as well as provide support for those going through treatment, and more importantly talk to others in the same situation facing the same problems.