Turn town teal to raise awareness of ovarian cancer

Catherine Hunt wants to turn the town teal in Harpenden.

Catherine Hunt wants to turn the town teal in Harpenden. - Credit: Catherine Hunt

A Harpenden woman is campaigning to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer following the sharp drop in the number of people contacting their GP because of the pandemic.

Catherine Hunt, 55, wants to turn the town teal this week to highlight the condition - and is urging residents to decorate their front windows in teal with balloons, decorations, bunting or products.

She said: "March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and teal is the colour that represents ovarian cancer.  What a conversation starter - our High Street alive with teal, full of balloons, decorations and bunting. Let’s get people talking about ovarian cancer symptoms.

"I will be in key locations throughout the week raising awareness - let’s show that Harpenden is a great place to live with a supportive community." 

Catherine was diagnosed with Stage 3A ovarian cancer in April 2019. At the time she was working long hours in a human resources role in the city. With a daily commute from Harpenden to London, a busy lifestyle plus regularly visiting her sick mother, she was suffering with extreme fatigue.

But, like many women, ignored this and continued on. Then getting ready for a big night out, she visited a beautician and felt a painful lump in her abdomen which turned out to be a tumour. During the initial diagnosis stage, Catherine’s right leg bloated due to DVT and a clot on her lung was also discovered. Following surgery to drain her kidneys, the removal of the tumour and a total abdominal hysterectomy, she received chemotherapy at Lister Hospital.

The cancer had spread to her bowels and the surgery resulted in a stoma, an opening on the abdomen that diverts body waste into a pouch on her body. There is now no evidence of the disease, but she remains under the care of the Oncology team at Lister Hospital. She has recently undergone her first surgery to reverse the stoma. Catherine’s treatment and recovery has taken two years but she is hoping that by this autumn, she will be back on Platform 1 at Harpenden station waiting for her early morning train.

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Catherine is keen to help more women learn the symptoms of ovarian cancer and know they can still contact their GP despite the pandemic, as an early diagnosis saves lives. Eleven women die every day from ovarian cancer and the symptoms are:

  • Persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual)
  • Other symptoms can include unexpected weight loss, a change in bowel habits or extreme fatigue.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms, and they are persistent and not normal for them, should contact their GP.

Some of the activities taking place in Harpenden this week include Simmons the baker selling cup cakes with a £1 donation from every sale going to the campaign, Harpenden Hopper buses decorated in teal and a stall in the High Street on Saturday March 19.

Businesses backing the campaign include Ashtons, Allsopp, Jolie, Oui, Threads, Healing Hounds and Lyndhurst Financial Management.

Support the campaign via the JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/TurnTheTownTeal