Sophie's Legacy

Polaroid Picture of Sophie

LATEST NEWS

THE PURBECK PURSUIT
23 March 2015, 14:03

The Purbeck Pursuit is a one day team challenge event on the 25th April based in the stunning rural Purbeck region of Dorset. The event will be based in one central location, with a series of team challenges starting and finishing at or near the base location.

SOPHIES LEGACY SPRING FLING
20 March 2014, 11:25

As we all begin to stretch our limbs in the recent glorious British sunshine and plan Sophie’s Legacy Challenge 2014 in Bournemouth (details to follow soon!), we thought perhaps it would be good to start the training season with a little Spring Fling warm up event.

Here's to a great year.
22 December 2013, 11:41

2013 saw five consecutive years of Sophie’s Legacy challenges.

The grand total raised this year has been £33,417.24

Thanks to all of you!

RUGBY - New Zealand Ambassador's XV v Germany
19 September 2013, 14:10

The annual rugby game between the New Zealand Ambassador’s XV and the German National Team is not to be missed! Especially as this year ex-All Blacks captain Taine Randell will be playing for the Kiwis!!
Kick-Off is at 4pm.

Sophie's Illness

Sophie died of ovarian cancer. Her diagnosis of epithelial ovarian tumours was confirmed in spring 2000 following surgery to improve the chances of successful in-vitro fertilisation.

Sophie’s particular form of the disease is the most common type of ovarian cancer accounting for an estimated 90% (1) of cases. She was, however, not of the typical age. Sophie was diagnosed aged 26 whilst the majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are aged over 55(1). In 2006 just under 60,000(1) women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the seven major western countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan & USA). This figure means that ovarian cancer is still relatively rare but with only about 35%(1) of women surviving five years from diagnosis this cancer remains one of the most lethal.

It is disproportionately deadly because the early identification of the disease is so difficult. Many of the early symptoms such as abdominal bloating and pelvic pain are easily attributable to common ailments. So, as in Sophie’s case, it is not until biopsies can be taken that diagnosis can be confirmed. It is estimated that more than 75% of diagnoses are made once the cancer has reached stage III or stage IV (2). When the cancer has reached stage III there are already signs of the cancer spreading to tissues outside the pelvic area, such as the bowel. In 2000 when Sophie was diagnosed with stage III disease the mean survival time for this advanced condition was approximately two years (3). If the cancer is diagnosed in either stage I or stage II when the tumour cells are still limited to the pelvic area then five year survival rates are in excess of 90% (1,3).

The preferred treatment option for ovarian cancer is a total hysterectomy. This means removal of both ovaries, both fallopian tubes, the uterus and the omentum (the fatty pad of tissue protecting the front of the pelvic region). This major surgery is then normally followed up with chemotherapy. This is the course of action that Sophie was faced with. A hysterectomy is devastating for any woman as it physically and emotionally rips away much of what makes them feminine. The subsequent loss of hair that is so frequent in the following chemotherapy further reinforces the androgyny of their condition. These are feelings that are on top of the pain and physical suffering caused by the initial operation and then the cytotoxic drugs. Young women, such as Sophie, who have not had the chance to have a family, must also bear the grief for the children that they will never have.

Ovarian cancer has been dubbed the ‘silent killer’ because of the difficulties in detecting it an early stage. Despite the recent research that has contributed to a better understanding of the disease there is still no accurate screening test for a definitive diagnosis (4). This means that numbers of women with ovarian cancer will rise over the next five years to an estimated 172000 (1). The number of new cases each year will also rise according to the same estimates and the annual death rates will rise in parallel.

Sophie’s case was unique because of the combination of her type of cancer, her age, the number of treatments she received and the attitude she took in dealing with her disease. Everyone’s cancer is unique. This is one of the challenges in treating cancer sufferers as there will be differences in the disease itself but more importantly differences in the way each individual copes with the physical and emotional demands of living with their disease. It is estimated that today one in three people will suffer from cancer and one in every four will die from the disease (5). So even if the researchers, pharmaceutical companies and doctors are forming a formidable team to improve treatments there is still a long way to go before we start talking of consistently curing cancer.

The carer therefore plays a hugely important role. Particularly at the end of their lives terminally ill cancer sufferers need additional support and empathy from those around them. Organisations such as the Prospect Hospice and Macmillan perform a remarkable job in ensuring that the terminally ill are comfortable and are given the dignity they deserve. It is often overlooked but these organisations provide immense comfort to the immediate family too. The final days of life are so precious. They will often be at the forefront of the family’s memories and a peaceful death in appropriate surroundings is a wonderful gift. Sophie was able to appreciate the importance of these points well in advance of her own death which is why she was keen to leave a legacy which would continue to support the amazing work done by these organisations.

References
(1) The Cancer Market Outlook to 2012 – By Melissa Zebrowski. Business Insights 2007.
(2) http://ocan.org/facts.html
(3) www.cancerhelp.org.uk
(4) Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies of Ovarian Cancer. Ovarian cancer and oral contraceptives: collaborative reanalysis of data from 45 epidemiological studies including 23 257 women with ovarian cancer and 87 303 controls. Lancet 2008;371:303-14doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60167-1
(5) www.cancerbackup.org.uk