Jennifer Saunders warned BBC Radio 4 listeners today that women’s health research is “chronically underfunded” as she delivered her first Charity Appeal on the station.
On Sunday 29th November, the comedian said that “reproductive health doesn’t always receive the attention or investment it deserves” as she expressed her support for Wellbeing of Women, a charity that invests in women’s health research.
Telling the story of Amy, whose ovarian cancer tumour was the size of a mango by the time it was detected when she was just 36, Jennifer explained that the lack of priority given to women’s health research means that women are suffering in silence.
“Women play such an incredibly important part in our society; we make up more than half of our population, after all,” she said. “Yet many women’s health issues are often overlooked.”
She explained that Amy’s cancer is particularly difficult to treat as it has become resistant to chemotherapy, a common occurrence with ovarian cancer and something Wellbeing of Women is looking to find solutions to in its research.
Jennifer also explained that as there is no easy test for ovarian cancer it is also often detected too late – as was the case for Amy – which is why Wellbeing of Women researchers are looking to develop a new easy test.
Jennifer said that that she knows the importance of research having had cancer herself, saying “if it wasn’t for research, I wouldn’t be here on the radio today.”
The charity invests in research into gynaecological cancers, pregnancy and birth and wellbeing issues such as menopause and endometriosis.
Read the full script here:
Hello darlings, most of you know me as Eddie from Ab Fab – or perhaps the funnier half of French and Saunders. But underneath those fabulous characters, I am Jennifer. A woman, a mother to three daughters, and a grandmother, wife and a friend.
Women play such an incredibly important part in our society; we make up more than half of our population, after all! Yet many women’s health issues are often overlooked, and women are left feeling embarrassed and in pain.
There’s the trauma of miscarriage and stillbirth, the debilitating agony of endometriosis and 49% of girls in the UK have missed an entire day off school due to their periods. Did I just say that? Yes periods! But these issues are often trivialised, and a women’s reproductive health doesn’t always receive the attention or investment it deserves especially when it comes to saving lives.
Take Amy for instance, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 36. For two years, her symptoms went undetected as there isn’t a simple test and her tumour was the size of a mango by the time her doctor found it.
Amy had both her ovaries removed and along with them, her and her husband’s dream of having a family. And sadly her cancer cannot be cured as it’s resistant to chemotherapy but she’s hoping research will find a new treatment before it’s too late.
I know the importance of research when it comes to health having had cancer myself and if it wasn’t for research, I wouldn’t be here on the radio today.
Wellbeing of Women invests in pioneering research to help women like Amy and many more affected by reproductive and gynaecological conditions. From ultrasound screening in pregnancy to preventing cervical cancer through the HPV vaccine, Wellbeing of Women’s research has already saved thousands of lives.
£30 would pay towards the cost of equipment needed to analyse cancer tissue to help stop chemotherapy resistance, making Amy’s treatment more effective.
And £50 would pay for the processing of 10 blood samples that would be used to help find an early diagnostic test for ovarian cancer.
Donations can be made online here and Wellbeing of Women’s group of trustees have committed to matching all donations up to a total of £20,000 so donations will have double the impact. All funds raised will support our women’s health research programme and help us to save lives and safeguard and improve the future health of women, girls and babies.