VIDEO: talkhealth meets...Dafina, #checkMEup campaigner
As part of our December events series, talkhealth interviewed Dafina Malovska, the woman behind #checkMEup, a petition with women’s health at its core. In the interview, Dafina shares her own genealogical cancer story and how the experience placed her at the forefront of saving other women’s lives.
#checkMEup is an online movement that advocates for yearly women’s health checks from the beginning of puberty. Dafina founded the petition after dealing with the harsh realities of a late womb cancer diagnosis.
After visiting her GP with complaints of bloating and being told she had a gluten intolerance, Dafina admits that she was pleased when she started bleeding between periods. She knew that this symptom would force her GP to refer her to a gynaecological clinic.
It was only under private healthcare, where extensive screening was available, that doctors found widespread stage two tumour growth throughout Dafina’s reproductive organs. “My life completely changed in one day,” Dafina explains after two rounds of surgery resulted in a total hysterectomy and induced early menopause.
Left not being able to have children, experiencing the challenging symptoms of menopause and osteopenia (weakness in her bones), Dafina admits that she feels let down and frustrated. She knows that if her cancer had been caught earlier, she wouldn’t be facing these consequences and her cancer could have even been prevented.
“We are playing a guessing game with a life-threatening disease,” she continues, highlighting the inadequacy of female health checks in the UK compared to other European countries where women have access to yearly specialised checks.
Dafina does not deny that it is vital to attend smear tests but she emphasises that cervical cancer is only one of the five gynaecological cancers that affect thousands of women in the UK each year. 18,000 women are diagnosed with womb, vulva, ovarian or vagina cancer after waiting for symptoms to show, which can often - and in Dafina’s case - be too late.
#checkMEup aims to ensure that there are more preventative measures available to women throughout their lifetime: “In the UK, women’s health is not taken seriously at all and it is failing women of all ages.”
Here are some of Dafina’s top tips for if you find yourself in her situation:
“Remember you are not alone”
There are loads of online forums for women going through gynaecological issues and cancers. They offer a welcoming environment for you to learn about your condition from people going through it too. Remembering to reach out and seek help from your loved ones is also very important.
“Focus on what you have got”
Although a diagnosis may feel very scary, focusing on what you have already got can help soothe this. Even though surgery and treatment can be incredibly challenging, remember that you have been given an opportunity to fight the disease.
A lot can be said for becoming aware of how your vulva and body feel normally. By having this understanding you are more likely to notice red flags when it comes to your gynae health.
One final thing - make sure you sign the #checkMEup petition to play your part in making sure that future generations of women have access to specialised healthcare and life-saving preventative screenings.
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 20 November 2020
Next review: 20 November 2023