A BRAVE cancer patient who set up her own charity to help raise awareness of a ‘silent killer’ has been named as an Inspirational Woman of the Year finalist, and voting opens today.

Gill Harler, from Weymouth, has been battling ovarian cancer since 2011.

Following her diagnosis, she set up the Gill Harler Gynae Fund – an initiative which encourages women to be more aware of their bodies and the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

She is one of the finalists for ITV’s Lorraine’s Inspirational Woman of the Year.

To her surprise, presenter Victoria Milligan and a TV crew turned up at her home to announce the news that she was the second official finalist in a segment broadcast live on Tuesday's programme. Gill’s family and friends were also there to surprise her.

A video was shown as part of the segment to show why she had been nominated.

Gill, 67, who was nominated by a friend, said: “When I was nominated a while back I just laughed it off and thought ‘I don’t think so.’

“But I’m shocked that my family managed to keep it a secret from me. Everyone is a winner and all I set out to do was raise awareness of ovarian cancer, and I think we are doing that.

“This is all for the women who have ovarian cancer and partners who have lost their other halves to ovarian cancer. This is for all of them, not just me. There are a lot of inspirational people out there.”

In the UK, around 7,100 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.

Gill said: “A lot of women don’t know that a smear test doesn’t detect ovarian cancer. It is not the fault of GPs. It is a very hard disease to diagnose, so women need to know their own bodies and if something is not normal for them then they need to go and get checked out.”

Gill’s campaign – which includes a small card in the shape of a handbag listing the symptoms of the disease – aims to educate women.

The charity has also chosen the colour teal to raise awareness of gynaecological cancers.

Gill said: “There are three diamonds in the pin. One in memory of those who have died, one for those who are fighting and one for those yet to be diagnosed.”

The idea came from Andy Bowen, whose wife Angie was a close friend of Gill’s before she died of ovarian cancer, aged 47.

“This affects women of all ages,” said Gill. “It doesn’t matter how young or old you are. It affects children.

“If one life can be saved by this then I am happy.”

The winner of Lorraine’s Inspirational Woman of the Year will be announced on Monday when voting closes.