Today is International Women's Day. A day for us to acknowledge and celebrate all of the downright awesome economical, political and social achievements of wonderful women worldwide - Huzzah! I thought it most fitting then that on this day of female festivity I should introduce you to one amazing and inspiring female in particular. A female who's courage and strength knows no bounds. A female called Charlotte Louise Jennings.
A friend of a friend Charlotte was introduced to me almost seven years ago and I quickly got to know two things about her. Firstly, Char is THE original female skanker. Seriously. I'm pretty sure Beenie Man's Dancehall Queen was written after he saw her buss a few moves. And secondly with Miss Jennings what you see is what you get. And what you get is a genuine, kind, fun-loving and FOINE (yes foine) piece of ass.
On January 10th 2011 Charlotte gave birth to a b-EAU-tiful little girl called Alexa, aka Lexi, and shortly after began experiencing some very uncomfortable and severe symptoms. Excruciating abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and constant exhaustion. Lovely jubbly. Doc's dismissed these symptoms as changes to Char's body caused by the trauma that is childbirth yet over the six months that followed her condition did not improve. Being the forthright young woman that Charlotte is she demanded further investigations and blood tests, an ultrasound and MRI scan revealed an area of inflammation in Char's colon and small bowel. Textbook Crohn's the specialist said. Phew. A relieved Miss Jenning's then pushed for a colonoscopy *shudder* in order to confirm this diagnosis and finally get herself on the road to recovery.
On the 21st November 2011 Charlotte went to get the results of her colonoscopy. Alone. She had expected the consultant to tell her that her Crohn's was advanced and that she'd need surgery. What she did not expect was for the consultant to drop the 'C' bomb. No, not c*%t, although it is no coincidence that they share the same initial. It was cancer. Charlotte had cancer.
It seems absurd at 32 years old and with a 10 month old daughter that a non-smoking, non-drinking, healthy eating Charlotte should be suffering with a stereotypically 'old persons' disease right? Wrong. Cancer knows no age. It knows no gender, race or religion. But it obviously didn't know Char very well either. In December 2011 Charlotte underwent surgery to remove the cancerous tumour. Was is successful? I'll just let her Facebook status to the talking:
Well Mr Cancer, you thought you had got me but you didn't realise that I had everything to fight for!! I am now free of you and to make sure I might even have a little bit of chemo for your arse!! All u have shown me is what and who is important in life and you've helped me get my figure back!! Ha ha!!
Charlotte is currently in the midst of a course of chemotherapy to ensure that those bastard cancer cells are well and truly nuked! Although her body may be shattered from the intense treatment she is having to endure her spirit is most definitely not. True to form Char is putting a positive spin on her experience and is using her newfound knowledge for the greater good. Charlotte has set up a blog which she not only uses as a therapeutic tool to document her journey but also as a platform to raise awareness. Working with charities such as Beating Bowel Cancer and Bowel Cancer UK Charlotte is on a mission to get folk to recognise the symptoms, to generate support for suffers of this devastating disease and to get folk to recognise that bowel cancer does affect the young.
As Charlotte's diagnosis hits the 3 month mark I continue to be wowed by her optimistic outlook, her unwavering bravery and the unlimited power in which she has battled this c*%t they call cancer. If her track record is anything to go by I am getting my garage guns locked and loaded, ready for the summer that the female skanker returns to her rightful place. The dancefloor. Blup.