Avril Saunders appeared as a Case Study in THE SUN newspaper’s Health section yesterday.
A couple of months ago Avril emailed me via my website Featureworld – which I run to help people sell their true life stories to the press. Her story was simple – she had gone for a routine mammogram (the screening test available for women to detect breast cancer early) – and been shocked to be diagnosed with cancer.
Avril, a grandmother, has never smoked, always ate healthily and took exercise and so it was the last thing she ever expected.
Worse the tumour was discovered to be aggressive and Grade three. However, because screening had caught it so early it hadn’t spread and the only treatment she needed was surgery to remove it and some radiotherapy.
I knew Avril’s story would be perfect if I were ever doing a feature on this – and on Wednesday when The Sun Health team contacted me to see if I had anyone like Avril on my books, I was able to put her forward.
The Sun were doing a feature following up on the news story that some doctors believe mammograms do more harm than good because they identify lumps that might not ever progress to cancer or spread – and then women might undergo unnecessary treatment.
However, Avril and two other ladies went into The Sun to tell women not to abandon screening – as Avril says she is proof that it does save lives. She feels lucky her breast cancer was caught early and wants to encourage other women to do the same.
Avril feels so strongly about screening that she has written a book. Called Mammograms Save Lives, it will be available from Amazon Online, Waterstones, and WH Smiths and all profits will go to Breast Cancer Care and McMillan Nurses. Find out more here.
You might like: Breast cancer reunited me with my birth mum
If you would like the opportunity to take part in selected features and at the same time earn some money, why not apply for the Featureworld newsletter at Featureworld Casting website.
To see which stories editors are currently looking for interviewees for click here: Magazine Updates
For editors looking for an interviewee like Avril click here: Find a Case Study.
Story in THE SUN newspaper today about women donating their eggs…This week it was announced that egg donors could get up to £750 for a donation and sperm donors could also be paid around £35. Currently there is a huge shortage of people willing to donate their eggs and sperm – but there is a big demand from childless couples who could not have a longed for child any other way.
For this follow-up feature in The Sun I spoke to two women who both donated their eggs for free. First up was Jackie Barr. Although husband Stephen wasn’t keen on her donating, the mum of two really wanted to help another couple. At the same time she felt a desire to have more children and felt this was a way of doing just that. Although recipients of egg and sperm do not know the identity of those who’ve donated to them, if a baby results, when that child is 18, he or she allowed to know who their biological parent is and can be put in contact with them. It is thought this is what puts a lot of people off donating – but for Jackie the thought of donated children turning up on her doorstep in 18 years time is a welcome one and in fact she admits she will be disappointed if no-one knocks at her door.
The second interviewee was Jodie Michalska. Jodie already has a baby with wife Carmen, conceived with anonymous donor sperm from a regulated clinic. But in order to get a discount at the same time as going through the treatment, she donated 18 eggs. She has since donated again – and in fact admits it isn’t for financial reasons. She recently received a card from a couple who’ve received her eggs saying thank you. Jodie doesn’t know if this woman is having her baby but she says the knowledge that she is giving a childless couple hope is an amazing feeling. And baby Faye has brought so much joy into their lives that she wants anyone who is desperate for a child to know that feeling.
This is the third time I have placed Jackie Barr’s story in a national publication. It is the first time for Jodie who was delighted with today’s ‘lovely feature’.
If you have a story about egg or sperm donation, then do contact me via my Sell My Story website to see if your story could be saleable.
Isabelle Wingrove and her two sons have been through a nightmare. When husband Jeff collapsed with a terrible headache, she rang her GP for advice. She was put through to an out of hours service and when, as Jeff’s condition worsened, she begged the GP she spoke to there to come out and visit, she refused.
Instead she diagnosed harmless vertigo. Over the next 24 hours Jeff’s condition got much worse – but the GP, Dr Francisca Ogunbiyi, simply said if Isabelle was worried, she should bring Jeff to hospital herself. Isabelle also called an ambulance but they also diagnosed vertigo.
The following day Isabelle and her youngest son discovered Jeff virtually unconscious. He was then rushed to hospital but it was too late and he died. In fact, he’d had a stroke and doctors told Isabelle if he’d been treated earlier, he would have survived.
Isabelle’s shocking story made headlines in many national newspapers. She has since been awarded a sum of money for negligence. But although the GP was given a warning by the General Medical Council, she was not barred from practice.
Isabelle still grieves for the loss of Jeff, whom she describes as her soulmate – but she was comforted by the fact Jeff’s death went to save the lives of five other people. This was because, as she faced switching off Jeff’s life support, she made the decision to donate his organs.
However, Isabelle says: “Even now I can’t forgive the doctor for what she did. If she had bothered to come out and see Jeff , he would still be alive today.”
Have you made the headlines but want to tell your story again? If so do contact me here: Sell a story to the press.
Laurel Padbury’s real life health story appeared in the DAILY MAIL newspaper today.
Retired banker Laurel wanted to raise awareness for the often misdiagnosed condition Temporal Arteritis. Also known as Giant Cell Arteritis, the symptoms of stiff neck, headache and painful jaw are often put down to other illnesses such as an infection.
But in fact, particularly in women over the age of 50, they can be a sign of this condition. And worryingly, if it isn’t diagnosed swiftly it can lead to blindness.
Professor Bhaskar Dasgupta, a rheumatologist at Southend Hospital and a leading expert, is currently running an awareness campaign for GPs.
He wants doctors to check patients for symptoms such as jaw pain and blurry vision. If Temporal Arteritis is suspected a simple blood test can confirm the diagnosis and steroids can swiftly prevent the condition spreading to the eyes.
Laurel believes she has been extremely lucky that she did not go blind. Aged 63, she has always been a fit person who eats healthily and loves a game of tennis or golf. So when she began suffering from aches and pains, she simply put it down to overdoing it a little. She thought so little of her symptoms that she and husband Tim even flew to Plettenberg Bay, a seaside resort in South Africa where they have an apartment. Despite getting worse while they were there – she could barely get out of bed in the morning – she simply visited a chiropractor and a physiotherapist. It was only when she got home and googled her symptoms she realised they could be a sign of something more serious that she went to her GP. And thankfully he put her on steroids straightaway. Laurel is now much better and says every day she opens her eyes and sees the ceiling she feels grateful for her sight. Her consultant had warned she could have gone blind at any time.
My thanks to Prof Dasgupta and Pat Stone at Southend Hospital for all their help as I researched this article. To find out more: Giant Cell Arteritis.
Do you have a story for Good Health on the Daily Mail? If so, contact me here: My Health Story.
Not everyone who comes to Featureworld is looking to ‘sell’ their story to the press. Some people simply want to highlight an issue they believe to be terribly unfair.
Joanne Wilkins is a very good example of this. She is mum to Ellie-Maye and was incensed when her daughter took a tiny tin of Vaseline into school to moisturise her lips – only to have it confiscated as it was not prescribed by a doctor.
Joanne felt the reaction by the school over the tin of Vaseline was over the top – especially as she says it was confiscated from Ellie-Maye in front of school friends. She was further angered when the school’s Head suggested one solution was for Joanne to ‘medicate’ her daughter at home or come into school herself to apply the cream.
It transpired the policy at the school was that any ointment or cream to be self-administered by pupils must be prescribed by a physician. This meant if Joanne wanted Ellie-Maye to use the cream, which costs under £1 to buy and is available from supermarkets as well as chemists, she had to get a private prescription from her GP at a cost of £15. This policy was backed up by the local county council, which put out a statement saying the same thing.
The story caused a huge number of MailOnline readers to leave comments. The vast majority did feel the school’s approach was over the top for such a harmless lip ointment, which anyone is able to buy. However, some parents of pupils at the school also left comments praising the school and the Head.
Whatever your views, Joanne said: “I was just pleased to get this issue out in the open.” Joanne later went on her local TV news programme to discuss the issue further.
Do you have a health and safety ‘issue’ story to sell? If so contact me here: Sell My Story
This heart-warming real life story about how Abby Drinkell’s amazing triplets appears in the DAILY MIRROR newspaper today.
After nine miscarriages Abby Drinkell had almost given up having a longed for baby. Then she was researching the internet and came across research at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington that recurrent miscarriages were sometimes caused by a blood clotting problem. She was referred and given a very simple treatment. That was aspirin to thin the blood. It resulted in two gorgeous sons.
But when she split with their dad and met Lee, they wanted a child of their own. Sadly, when she got pregnant she had an ectopic pregnancy, where the baby develops in the fallopian tube. This is a life-threatening condition and the embryo and the tube had to be removed, reducing her fertility by half.
Incredibly, however, she got pregnant again. Once again she took aspirin and amazingly she discovered at her first routine scan she was expecting triplets.
After going into premature labour her babies were born and after a worrying time when they were in special care, they are now all home.
The story is amazing as there is no history of multiple births in the family and the triplets – two boys and a girl – are not identical. And with only one fallopian tube Abby’s doctor calculated the odds of her having triplets as 33million to one!
Abby wanted to share her story to give encouragement to others suffering from fertility issues that you might well end up with a baby – even the big family you dreamed of.
This story has now been placed with a women’s weekly magazine.
If you have a moving and emotional story to tell, do contact me here: Selling a Story.
Teresa’s delicate story about how shame over her different sized wonky breasts stopped her dating appears in REVEAL magazine this week.When Teresa emailed me through my sell my story form she was very unsure about whether she wanted to go ahead.
In fact, we spoke for a few weeks before Teresa made up her mind she did want to sell her story to a magazine.
Teresa’s unusual real life story was in demand by many mags but in the end we chose Reveal and Teresa is delighted with the sensitive way her story has been portrayed and also the lovely photo of her.
It took a lot for Teresa to speak out. For years she suffered terrible humiliation when one boob didn’t grow much and the other grew a lot. Understandably she was so upset she never wanted to date in case a man discovered the truth about her body. And she became terribly depressed. In fact it was only when she eventually broke down to a GP in her twenties that she confessed her low feelings were all around her breasts. Thankfully, she was offered cosmetic surgery on the NHS to correct her boobs. She then met a man – who had no idea of her past – and finally became intimate at the age of 26.
Teresa said: “I am so happy to have spoken about this. Alison couldn’t have chosen a better magazine for me. I was very happy with the story in Reveal magazine and the way they set it out.”
If you have a particularly personal story to sell then do contact me in confidence and we can discuss all the options. Speak to Alison.