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Health and Lifestyle

Don’t die from embarrassment - Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 21-27 January 2019

Health and LifestyleElizabeth Rees
Source:  Kimber Beck

Source: Kimber Beck

Did you know...Over 4,000 women’s lives in the UK are saved each year by the NHS - just because they attended their cervical screening appointments!

By turning up for their smear tests 75% of cervical cancers were PREVENTED!!

So why is attendance of this life saving test at its lowest in England for 19 years and lowest in Wales and Scotland for 10 years?

Embarrassment? Lack of knowledge? Cultural barriers? 

Since September 2017, when I launched my V Collection I have made it one of Eliza Eliza’s missions to get more people talking about Gynaecological health and raising awareness of the five gynaecological cancers - Vaginal, Vulval, Womb, Ovarian and Cervical (Remember these!)

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is 21-27 January 2019 

Are you up to date with your Cervical screening? It takes two minutes to make an appointment, five minutes to whip your knickers down and could save your actual LIFE!

Source: The Eve Appeal

Source: The Eve Appeal

What else can you do?

1. Know your body

Cervical Cancer doesn’t always show any signs until advanced stages but these are some of the Symptoms and signs to look out for:

  • Vaginal bleeding, especially after sex

  • Bleeding other than when you are on your period

  • Bleeding after the menopause

  • Pain/discomfort during sex

  • Unpleasant vaginal discharge

In many cases above symptoms are not related to cervical cancer but it is really important that if you have any concerns speak to your GP. It’s very difficult to embarrass a doctor...have you read This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay!

2. Talk about it

The best way to make something normal is to talk about it, not just with other women but men too.

Speaking honestly also helps to erase myths, it wasn’t that long ago that we were seeing blue ink being used in all tampon and sanitary towel adverts! I mean lets start with the basics at least!

3. Support The Eve Appeal

The only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers (can you name them without scrolling up?)

This year for Cervical Cancer prevention week they are tackling the myths and telling the truths surrounding cervical cancer prevention.

If you have any questions you can contact them. Their Ask Eve service is run by gynae cancer specialist nurse Tracie Miles and Cancer information officer Karen Hobbs (who also just happens to be a very funny comedienne and speaks very openly about her experience when diagnosed with cervical cancer) You can check out her interview on Cherry Healey's podcast Letters to my Fanny  here

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Eliza Eliza’s V Collection, clutch bags and purses lined with a vulva design, aims to break the ice and get more women and men talking about gynaecological health. Shop yours here

5 Plastic free beauty lifestyle changes I made last year and will continue in 2019

A Sustainable World, Health and LifestyleElizabeth Rees
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1. deodorant 

I’ve swapped my aerosol and roll on deodorant and anti perspirant for plastic free tins from Earth Conscious. These tins contain a natural deodorant mix made from 100% natural ingredients (no yucky chemicals). I’m currently using the ‘Mint’ formula which contains a mix of peppermint and spearmint essential oils. I promise you it doesn’t feel like you’re putting toothpaste on under your arms! There’s a wide range of other scents to choose from, including Lemon and Orange, Grapefruit and Lemon, Lavender and Teatree, Jasmine and Rose, Lemon and Rosemary or unscented. It’s taken a while to get used to using my fingers to apply the balm but there are now plastic free sticks available. I’ve found the balms in the tins go such a long way though. I love how Earth Conscious donates money from their deodorant sales to the Marine Conservation Society, which is a UK based charity who help to protect our seas, shores and wildlife.

2. Soap bars  

One swap that has been easy, is to stop buying plastic filled bottles of shower gel and switch to bars of soap. There are so many wonderful smelling bars to choose from these days, I especially love buying from small businesses, even better if they are local to me! I love the Cole and Co collection of soaps available and Soap daze’s soaps on a rope.

3. Refillable conditioner

Shampoo soap bars are often featured, but what about conditioner? Yes you can get conditoner bars but they are not as widely available as the shampoo ones. I am lucky enough to have two shops in Cardiff where I can refill my own container with hair conditioner. This is a great way to save on multiple plastic shampoo bottles.

If you don’t have any bulk buy stores near you then why not consider buying larger qualities yourself. Brands such as Faith in nature offer 5 litre size bottles for around £10 per litre (don’t forget to add on the pump dispenser!) 

4. Coconut oil make-up remover

I was really sceptical about this one, then one day I ran out of my usual make-up removable  so thought I’d give the coconut oil a shot...it worked a treat! Even on eye make-up! I just take a marble size amount of coconut oil and warm in the palm of my hand. Then apply and rub gently all over my face, particularly on my eyelashes. I then take a Cheeky wipes square reusable cloth soaked and rung out in warm water and wipe away! Which leads me on to plastic free change number 5...

 5. Reusable make-up remover wipes

It takes 10,000 litres to produce a kilo of cotton (source: Theworldcounts.com) as well as hazardous pesticides used which pollute the environment and result in unsafe drinking water for surrounding communities. All to produce throwaway, single use cotton wool pads!

There is also the plastic packaging that the pads and balls come in, this didn’t sit right with me. 

At the end of last year I started using reusable cotton pads, same size as ‘normal’ ones, you just keep them in a mesh bag and throw the dirties in with your usual wash. Then my friend Emma over at Not my first Rodeo reminded me of Cheeky Wipes. I was already using them for kids faces so why not mine? So nowadays I use their washable square cotton terry wipes. 

Want to get more top 5 weekly ideas? Click here  

The V Collection

Health and LifestyleElizabeth Rees1 Comment

It's almost two weeks into Gynaecological Awareness Month and if you have been following me on Instagram you would have seen the Day to Day posts I have been adding with information about gynae cancers, what The Eve Appeal are doing to raise awareness and research of gynae cancers and of course photos of the NEW V Collection. 

Navy organic hemp-cotton V Collection Clutch bag with vulva organic cotton lining

Navy organic hemp-cotton V Collection Clutch bag with vulva organic cotton lining

I have partnered with The Eve Appeal  specifically with the aim of raising awareness by helping to break the ice - I'm sure there aren't many people who have seen a vulva print lined bag before!

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Want to get your hands on one? This Collection is available to buy here I donate £7 from every clutch bag and £5 from every purse sale to The Eve Appeal

Eve 4 Eve #KnowYourBody Fundraiser event

Health and LifestyleElizabeth ReesComment

Modelling vulvas from playdoh, pin the ovaries on the women's reproductive system and timing how long it takes to move marbles from one container to another with a speculum.... The teacher in me totally came out when arranging the fundraiser event in order to raise money awareness for gynae cancers.

Eve Appeal balloons included in the fundraiser pack

Eve Appeal balloons included in the fundraiser pack

We were very aware in the early stages of organising the event that we needed a focus to the evening and Bethan (from Bethan Kate's Tearoom, Pentyrch) and together we came up with the 'challenges' idea. We both really felt strongly that those attending should be given the opportunity to learn something new and feel comfortable enough to discuss subjects related to gynae cancer and the women's reproductive system. 

Challenge 1 challenge information sheet

Challenge 1 challenge information sheet

Challenge 1 Vulva Playdoh modelling

Challenge 1 Vulva Playdoh modelling

The Event took place Friday 25th August 2017 between 7-9pm at Bethan Kate's Tearoom, Pentyrch.

The five challenges:

Challenge 1.  Using playdoh to model vulvas of the women's reproductive system. The Eve Appeal had surveyed women last year with less than a third being able to label all six parts of the women's reproductive system. It was great watching women, of all ages producing models of all shapes and sizes!

Challenge 2. Pin the ovaries on the reproductive system, for this I used a diagram from the range of materials provided by The Eve Appeal (find them here) laminated and made a blindfold from excess material from my V Collection 

Challenge 2 Pin the ovaries on the Reproductive System

Challenge 2 Pin the ovaries on the Reproductive System

Challenge 3. Consisted of creating a little ''friendly' competition but also gave those who attended the opportunity to handle one of the items used to administrate a cervical screening test - a speculum! So often by the time the speculum has been produced we are legs wide open and staring at the ceiling, trying to make small talk about the weather or the latest village gossip! Moving marbles from one container to another using a speculum was the aim and harder than it looks!

Challenge 4 'Vagina Dialogues' conversation starters

Challenge 4 'Vagina Dialogues' conversation starters

Challenge 5 Fill in the gynae cancer statistic blanks

Challenge 5 Fill in the gynae cancer statistic blanks

Challenge 4. Also using info provided by The Eve Appeal, from their 'Vagina Dialogues' encouraging guests to break the ice and discuss gynae related subjects. I really made it clear that nobody should talk about anything they felt uncomfortable about, however, people seemed to relax in the atmosphere created and were happy to talk 'bush or bare' and 'best and worst names for the 'vagina''. 

Challenge 5. I produced a laminated A3 sheet with 10 statements with missing statistic blanks from the Gynae quiz round created by The Eve Appeal. Guests had to match statistics to the statements. 

Vulva cupcakes by Bethan from Bethan Kate's Tearoom, Pentyrch

Vulva cupcakes by Bethan from Bethan Kate's Tearoom, Pentyrch

To end the evening all those attending were given vulva cupcakes, created by Bethan. I know there were a few left over which people were more than happy to donate money in exchange for gifts for friends and husbands!!

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We raised £351 in total on the night! But to me just as importantly people were talking about gynae cancers and the importance of booking in that cervical screening test every 3 years - are you up to date?

The V Collection is a collection of bags and purses in partnership with The Eve Appeal. £7/£5 from every clutch bag/purse sale is donated straight to The Eve Appeal, the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – ovarian, womb, cervical, vaginal and vulval.

Eve Appeal Partnership

Health and LifestyleElizabeth Rees

I'm so excited to announce that in September I will be launching a new collection in partnership with The Eve Appeal. After listening to an interview with Karen Hobbs, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at aged just 24, on Cherry Healey's 'Letters To My Fanny' Podcast. I found myself wanting to find out more.

Every day 58 women are diagnosed with a a gynaecological cancer and of those, 21 Mothers/Daughters/Sisters/Aunties will die! This really shocked me, I had put off having a smear test until after my first child and looking back, at age 29 this was pretty silly of me! My reason for putting it off, embarrassment? Naivety of fully understanding what was being tested? Laziness? I'm not really sure, things could have been very different if abnormalities had been found and could have potentially been discovered earlier.

The Eve Appeal 'the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – ovarian, womb, cervical, vaginal and vulval.'

The Eve Appeal 'the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – ovarian, womb, cervical, vaginal and vulval.'

The thought behind my new collection is trying to get more women (and men too) to talk more openly about gynae cancers and the importance of going to that smear test - and NOT putting it off!

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Are you in Cardiff? I am hosting a fundraising event on Friday 25th August 2017 to raise money and awareness for gynae cancers. Lots of fun activities planned for the evening, complimentary glass of bubbly and a special tasty treat! To buy tickets visit Bethan Kate's Tearoom, Pentyrch or contact me via elizaelizauk.com or twitter/instagram/facebook

Sneak peek of the V Collection, can't wait to show you the lining!!!

Sneak peek of the V Collection, can't wait to show you the lining!!!

To find out more about my partnership with The Eve Appeal and The V Collection launching 1st September 2017 (PRE-ORDER 25th August 2017) sign up HERE