In March 2002 I went to see my GP about a lump in my right groin. I was sent off for a biopsy because we were pretty sure it was cancer. A lymph node was taken out and I was referred to a gynaecological oncologist for further testing and treatment. What was discovered was that I had grade 3 ovarian cancer, with the type being a serous carcinoma which is the most malignant form of ovarian cancer. I was operated on the following week. A hysterectomy was undertaken as well as the removal of my tubes. I was given a course of chemotherapy.
I seemed to be doing fine and responded well to the treatment but four and a half years later my CA125 (tumour markers) went up. In I went for another operation where they discovered a tumour on my appendix and wall of stomach.
In 2008 the cancer returned and I had another operation. Again in 2011 I had some of my liver taken out. I am now over 80 but dealing with colon cancer and a husband with his own health issues.
Having been through my cancers I have found that positivity certainly helps. Cancer tends to shut the brain down but I am a determined one and I would always tell my medical team that they may know cancer but they don’t know me. As women we need to be as healthy as we can, eat well, travel while we can, be proactive about our health and most importantly, if there is something wrong, front up and fix it!
I would like to see more of an emphasis on ovarian and other gynaecological cancers. I have seen too many friends die. I have seen what the focus on breast cancer has done with survival rates going up and better detection and treatment. Unfortunately with ovarian cancer the symptoms can be too late. In my case I had no other symptoms except for the lump on the groin, which I guess makes me lucky. We need to help researchers find an easier way to diagnose ovarian cancer, and diagnose it early. I would also like to see more discussion about how our genes may be indicators. The more information we share, particularly with medical teams and researchers, the better picture we get. I am a strong believer that research will help find better detection methods, treatment and, hopefully one day, a cure!