Ailsa, one of our PR and Marketing Executives, discusses her two volunteer days spent with The Lady Garden Foundation.

When I was at primary school, I remember being told that my aunt was ill. I only remember small snippets following that; a hospital visit, a quiet discussion with a teacher and with my parents. Unfortunately, like many people, my aunt had been told she had cancer. But unlike many, she had been told that she had an extremely rare form of cancer, at a very young age, with a small chance of survival. It was a confusing time; being so young, I’m not sure I understood exactly what was going on. Since growing up, I’ve developed a better understanding, but I’ve also been struck by the lack of awareness and education on gynaecological cancers in general, particularly in those who have never been affected by it in some way. While there is information available, it can often take the form of long, and seemingly never-ending, lists of symptoms that can intimidate and discourage people from reading further into the topic.

So, it’s no surprise that when searching for a charity to offer my professional support to in 2019, I began looking for a gynaecological cancer charity; and stumbled upon The Lady Garden Foundation, a national women’s health charity that is raising awareness and funding for research into gynaecological cancers. Unlike many other charities I had seen, the website clearly, and elegantly, laid out information about the variety of gynaecological cancers and the respective symptoms of each in a way that was engaging and not intimidating. When I looked further into the charity, I found an empowering and informative social media presence with a large following – clearly it was doing something right. Through accruing such a number of followers, it was reaching thousands of women a day with important and encouraging information.

I reached out to the charity, and found that I had contacted it just in time to support with the lead up to its biggest annual event: The Lady Garden Run. At Conscious Communications, we have a lot of experience with events, and we are able to utilise our expertise and skills to ensure events – often two or three days long – are a complete success. I started my two days volunteering in The Lady Garden Foundation office in London, where I spent my time collating details and reaching out to local running clubs to raise awareness of the upcoming event. With just a few days left before the event, one of the key targets was to ensure every last space was filled. On my second day, I worked from the Royal Marsden Hospital alongside the charity’s team; unloading and packaging over 500 goodie bags for each of The Lady Garden Foundation runners taking part in the event the following day. Being an avid runner myself, I’ve often benefitted from the time of volunteers who make my races possible – so I couldn’t leave without volunteering as a race steward at the event itself, which alone raised an incredible £90,000 for cancer research and support at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Working with The Lady Garden Foundation reminded me why such charities are so important; to both those with and without cancer. The support and community that such charities open up to those living with cancer, or affected by it, is invaluable – something that I only truly realised after discussing my charity days with my aunt, who, amazingly, and against all odds (5-10%), survived – and has spent her time since raising awareness and money for cancer research charities, specifically gynaecological cancer charities. The Lady Garden Foundation is setting a fantastic example of how charities can communicate, by providing important information in a bold and up-front tone of voice that is relatable to a huge female audience and community. Awareness and education of cancer and its symptoms shouldn’t just be promoted to those already experiencing symptoms; if more people were aware of early stage signs, more lives could be saved.

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