For 40 years, Connie Johnson was always one day older than me.
Until she wasn’t.
On 8th September, 2017, the 40 year old mother of two boys, died from breast cancer.
I have been on board with Connie and Samuel Johnson and their Love Your Sister charity from the beginning. I felt such an affinity with Connie: not just that we were born one day apart in January of the same year. It was also that we were living parallel lives as the mothers of two young boys, both loved to write, and according to her book, both loved to be right (a Capricorn trait to be sure).
It felt like a sucker punch when Connie died, and it still does when I reflect on the life I am living: an opportunity she did not receive.
Connie spent the last precious years of her life making it her mission to remind women to check their boobs. Now, on this two year (and a bit) anniversary of Connie’s death, I am reminding you. Because Connie can’t.
There is a very good organisation called: “Can at 40. Do at 45”, which reminds us that mammograms are free through Breastscreen from the age of 40: not 50 which is the age usually advertised. You CAN have a free mammogram from 40 years of age, you MUST do it from the age of 45. Please do not put it off until you are 50.
But don’t ONLY check your boobs.
Women’s bodies are so amazing in the way they can grow tiny humans and bring new life into the world. But those same miraculous reproductive organs can also turn rogue, and the bits that give life turn around and try to kill us.
Ovarian cancer, Uterine, Cervical, Vaginal and even Vulvar cancer. (Did you even know there was such a thing as Vulvar cancer? I certainly didn’t until this year. It presents like skin cancer, even though that part of the anatomy doesn’t often see the sun!). We don’t need to be terrified of these things, but we do need to be aware of them. We need to be vigilant with our own bodies, and if something does not feel right, see a doctor. See them again if necessary. And again and again if it still doesn’t feel right.
In the words of John Farnham, “we are all someone’s daughter”. We are also wives, partners, possibly mothers, sisters, aunts, and maybe even grandmothers.
We matter to our families.
We must ensure we matter to ourselves.
Please: check your boobs.
Check your bits.
Be proactive about your health.
This is your call to action.
Don’t just do it for me. Or for Connie. Do it for you. Do it for all of the people who love you.
This world needs you in it.