Ann Martinelli was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2015. She has worked hard to raise awareness ever since and held a charity ball earlier this month that raised an incredible £23,000!
“In May 2015 I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. At only 51 years of age this was a shocking diagnosis. Why didn’t I know the symptoms? Why had it reached Stage 3? I was never ill and just thought my symptoms were a side effect of the menopause.
With this diagnosis I made a decision. I have two lovely daughters – Lois 25 and Gina 21 – and I needed to be brave for their sake. I wanted something good to come of it so I made it my mission to raise awareness and give ovarian cancer the publicity it needs.
None of my friends or relations knew the symptoms and not one of them had heard of a CA125 blood test. I was determined that nobody I knew would be ignorant of the symptoms from that day onwards.
Whilst going through chemotherapy, and trying to carry on my job as a Letting Agent, I thought about fundraising.
I certainly wasn’t fit enough to do a moon walk or a sky dive! So what could I do? After some deliberation I decided a charity ball seemed to be the way to make the most money.
My aim was to raise £10,000 and with the help of my dear friends we started to plan our OCA Charity Ball at the Manor of Groves Golf Club near Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire.
If we could get 150 guests the venue would be free of charge! My dear friend Sue came on board and between us we found 180 guests in no time, rising to 246 over the next few months!
The support was amazing. Not only with the guests paying £60 a ticket, but the DJ and auctioneer offered their services free of charge.
We anticipated having to beg for both auction and raffle prizes but wonderful prizes appeared from nowhere!
Everything was going well but then my world fell apart all over again. In July 2016 I noticed a lump just above my tummy button and near the hysterectomy scar. I hoped for a diagnosis of scar tissue or a hernia but no, the cancer had returned.
I was told it was treatable but incurable. My girls, my mum and I were devastated but kept positive.
I was then given radiotherapy and a daily pill to hopefully stabilize the cancer. The ball took some organizing and kept me busy and focused through some very dark days.
I could see the amount rising in the bank account and old friends came out of the woodwork to support us.
Sue decided to ‘brave the shave’ on the night and started a JustGiving page, which has raised just under £4,000.
My just giving page made another £1,000 with a £500 donation from my old company. How lovely! That bought me to tears.
Another friend made £270 with a bike ride. My daughter Gina decided to sing on the night and also recorded a CD – more tears!
Tickets were designed by Gina and printed with along with booklets for the tables giving info about my journey, the charity and symptoms, auction prizes etc.
The table plan changed by the week and then Lois, Sue and I spent the last Sunday pulling it all together. I knew I had to do some sort of speech (I started panicking!), but then I stumbled across the idea of a rap and dragged Sue in to perform it with me on the night. It was all about CA125 and how one little blood test can diagnose ovarian cancer.
Well the rap worked and we got a standing ovation! The whole night was a great success and the total to date is £23,000 – so much more than we could have hoped for.
We’ve received fabulous feedback with guests saying we should be proud of what we have achieved. We even got the ladies to change their profile pictures on Facebook to the symptom picture.
I wish we could do it all over again in slow motion – the night went so fast. But we hope to carry on with more fundraising next year. Every little helps and we look forward to taking a huge cheque to the charity soon and meeting the scientists at the research centre.
My thanks go out to all who have supported me since my initial diagnosis. I feel so grateful for each day and all the lovely people I have in my life.”