For the past three and a half years I have been on a journey, a journey that I did not expect and quite frankly, it is a journey that I would not wish on anyone. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer, the silent killer.
I had always led a healthy, uneventful life. I played tennis and golf, worked part-time as a pharmacist, travelled extensively with my devoted husband, John. We were enjoying time with our two happily married sons and five wonderful grandchildren.
From early 2012 I lost my appetite. I could not finish a meal and felt rather more tired than usual and developed a large stomach. I tried to ignore this but the stomach became uncomfortable and I consulted my GP. The scan revealed the dreaded cancer. I was probably very naïve but I just thought “No problem. I will be fine, just a small diversion”.
I was referred to Professor Neville Hacker at the Royal Hospital for Women. He organised for a large quantity of fluid to be drained from my stomach and I felt much more comfortable. He advised chemotherapy and a hysterectomy—quite daunting but I was unfazed and believed I would survive. I was referred to the Sydney Adventist Hospital for the chemotherapy. The crunch came when I sat in the hospital, the nurse put the cannula in my arm and I saw the drug coursing into my vein—THIS IS REAL—and I knew I needed to fight. I lost all my hair and this was hard to accept. Being bald is not a good look, but I had a great wig, a pretty hat and lots of scarves, so I got by. The nerves in my hands were destroyed and to this day my hands are still numb.
After three cycles of treatment the next hurdle was the hysterectomy. Surgery went smoothly and I was up and about in record time and home after five days. I had three more cycles of chemotherapy and I was officially IN REMISSION. Great joy, I was back to normal, my hair grew again, we started to play golf once more, spent time at our holiday house and life was very sweet.
However the joy was short lived as in June 2014 my husband was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. This was shattering for us both. I cared for this wonderful uncomplaining man at home for four months until he passed away. After 51 years of happy marriage, I had lost my best friend and I was devastated.
I am still in remission, feel well and anxiously await the result of my three-monthly blood tests. We desperately need funds to develop a simple screening test for ovarian cancer. For very good reason it is called the silent killer. The symptoms are so vague, easy to ignore and dismiss, as I did.
To read more about ovarian cancer, visit the section on Ovarian Cancer.