When Michael Jamieson’s friend Katie died four years ago she was just 21. On the day when she should have been attending her graduation ceremony, Katie’s Edinburgh University professors drove to her home in the north of Scotland to present her with her degree. Shortly afterwards Katie died, half way through a course of chemotherapy. Katie died from ovarian cancer.

‘Our sweet, bubbly childhood friend was gone, and she took a piece of us with her.’

Ovarian cancer is a disease that most people associate with post-menopausal women – but the truth is that it can and does affect women of all ages; 7,300 women are diagnosed with it every year in the UK alone, and 11 die of it every day.  It is a cancer that is often misdiagnosed, its symptoms easily confused with irritable bowel syndrome and other, less serious, conditions, with the result that it is often only caught at a late stage.

‘Each milestone myself and my friends make is tinged with sadness that she is not able to experience it. It is also tinged with sadness for her family who are left to carry on without her. Perhaps if her symptoms were taken more seriously she may have been cured or lived longer, but that is something which now cannot be answered.’ (Sarah)

On Saturday 29 September Michael and many of Katie’s other friends are coming together with over 60 professional and amateur musicians and singers – including 6 stunning soloists, a dedicated chorus and a superb orchestra – to stage a major fundraising gala in memory of Katie. In the spectacular setting of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, they will perform some of opera’s best and most powerful pieces, including extracts from Carmen, Turandot, Lucia de Lammermoor, Macbeth – and lots more!

Many of the participants in the orchestra, choir and a few of the soloists in the concert, have had friends, mothers and grandmothers die from the disease. Two of the performers have actually managed to overcome it. One man lost his wife from the cancer, and will sing for her during the performance.

All proceeds from the gala will go to Target Ovarian Cancer, the UK’s leading ovarian cancer charity. Target Ovarian Cancer works to improve early diagnosis, fund life-saving research and provide much-needed support to women with ovarian cancer. The cost of YOUR ticket could give newly diagnosed women a comprehensive guide to ovarian cancer which will offer vital information and support.

‘I lost my mother Isabel to ovarian cancer. It was not diagnosed until it was at stage 4, after her symptoms had been put down to gallstones. Her rapid decline after that was shocking and distressing. She died on 29 September 2001 – by a poignant coincidence, 17 years to the day before the date of the Opera Gala. Isabel was a classical music lover, an opera and concert-goer and a keen singer herself, so I am particularly glad to have the opportunity to raise both awareness of the disease and funds for Target Ovarian Cancer, by participating in this life-affirming concert of wonderful music in a splendid setting.’ (Gillian)

Target Ovarian Cancer’s work doesn’t pay for itself – its supporters fundraise tirelessly to keep it going.  By coming along to the gala on Saturday evening you’ll be helping to conquer this horrible disease, and to support women going through it now and in the future. You’ll also have a fabulous evening of wonderful music!  There’ll be wine (by donation), a raffle with fantastic prizes (many donated by local businesses), and a chance to find out more about Target Ovarian Cancer’s work. The cost of YOUR ticket could train GPs on ovarian cancer so more women are diagnosed earlier.

‘Too many women are diagnosed too late – so many wonderful women with the potential to live to fulfilled later years. So much talent is wasted through early death. I’ve been so lucky. I don’t want to waste that luck.’ (Wendy, diagnosed and treated in 2002, now a volunteer fundraiser and a member of Essex NSSG for Gynae Cancer.)

Tickets for the gala are £12 and may be purchased online here or on the door, subject to availability. Student tickets (£8) will also be sold on the night. The cost of YOUR ticket could help fund life-saving research, and so much more!

If you can’t attend on the night, please consider supporting the gala via its JustGiving page here.

For more information about Target Ovarian Cancer, visit https://www.targetovariancancer.org.uk/