It was a typical Monday morning at AS&K. I’d only been copywriting for a few months, mainly writing about neurology and dermatology. But on that morning, a meteor entered my atmosphere: a writing project, for a client, all about… the vagina.
Millions of individuals around the world experience discrimination and exclusion as a result of the historical stigma and shame associated with menstruation. An estimated 500 million (25% of all people who menstruate) experience ‘period poverty,’ defined as a lack of access to sanitary products, hygiene facilities, waste management and education.1 Isn’t it time to normalize menstruation, and end period poverty?
If you asked someone who they thought were the main contributors to climate change the answers would likely include energy companies and automotive industries, right? Not everyone thinks of the role that the pharmaceutical industry plays, even though it contributed 55% more CO2 than the automotive industry in 2015.1 In 2019, the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and chemicals was the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions within the NHS England.2
Just two years after my older sister had been diagnosed with cervical cancer, I was given the news that I had both ovarian and uterine cancer. Of the five types of gynecological cancer – vulval and vaginal being the other two – my sister and I had three. It was a huge blow and something that, as a family, we felt ill-prepared for. I subsequently underwent a double oophorectomy and a full hysterectomy, surgical procedures involving removal of my womb and both of my ovaries, which left me struggling with the symptoms of surgical menopause as well as the side effects of chemotherapy.
You wake up one morning with what feels like a jackhammer inside your skull.
Your throat is raw from coughing and your nose is so stuffed that you reminisce about the days when you were a member of the Five Senses Club. Hidden among the pile of scrunched up Kleenex is your phone, but after a few thumb taps, the heart palpitations that WebMD has given you make your snotty nose seem almost pleasant.
Once again, it’s that time of year. The sun has gone on its winter vacation, temperatures have dropped, and the sky is stained with an anything-but-cheerful shade of grey. With such serotonin-depleting changes to our environment, it’s no wonder that many of us feel less than chirpy in the winter months.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, if you’d asked people to list what they define as ‘critical’ healthcare workers, pharmacists most likely wouldn’t have made the cut despite being the third-largest group of healthcare professionals worldwide.
In 2018, I found myself suffering from a bad case of the blues. Being a person known for a sunny disposition, my mood didn’t go unnoticed, and I was lucky to have a friend ask the ever-invaluable question of “Is everything OK?”. Her willingness to listen and offer compassion gave me the long-awaited opportunity to open up. I realized that although everything in my life was going objectively well, something was missing, and I longed for another form of companionship.
The media often use terms like holy grail, silver bullet, or dawn of a new age in… for new treatments that seemingly offer a cure to a given ailment without any concomitant adverse effects. This trend is particularly noticeable in oncology, with Time magazine’s front cover from May 2001 perhaps being the most famous example. However, oncology is not the only therapy area where this is apparent.
Since March 2020, public interest in healthcare has skyrocketed. Prior to the pandemic, much of the population had little to no interest in the results of immunological clinical trials, possessing limited understanding of virology, vaccines and pharmaceutical developmental processes, and any knowledge of antibodies had been long forgotten post-A-level biology. Yet overnight, the mass use and often misuse of such scientific jargon by the media became the norm, and the understanding of such convoluted subjects was no longer considered a requirement limited to health professionals only.