Ovarian cancer diagnosed in 1998 following breathing and bladder problems, weight gain and bloating, and changed bowel habits. Treated by surgical removal of both ovaries and abdominal fluid, chemotherapy, then hysterectomy and further chemotherapy.
Ovarian cancer is often called a silent killer’ but she disagrees as she feels that she had symptoms for about four years before her diagnosis. For instance, she felt easily fatigued, was having problems with bladder incontinence, was gaining weight and was experiencing pains in her legs, which may have all been related to the cancer. Just before she was diagnosed her abdomen became very large due to the tumour.
She was diagnosed following a CA125 blood test (which picks up ovarian cancer tumour markers in the blood) and an ultrasound. She was initially in denial when she was diagnosed.
She was treated by surgical removal of both ovaries, chemotherapy, followed by a hysterectomy and further chemotherapy. She received her chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial. The hysterectomy caused her to go through the menopause, for which she was prescribed HRT. Other side effects of the chemotherapy included nerve pain and pins and needles in her arms and legs. She also lost her hair, but felt that was OK as her daughter helped her shave it off.
Following her diagnosis she became involved with an ovarian cancer charity called Ovacome, which provides information about ovarian cancer and it’s diagnosis to the general public and health professionals.
She experienced a cancer recurrence 4 months after her treatment, which was diagnosed by an elevation of the CA125 tumour marker in her blood tests.
Complementary therapies such as reiki, reflexology and eating a diet based on her blood type helped her maintain positive energy. She also felt that praying gave her a lot of strength when she was feeling especially poorly. She found it quite difficult to talk to her elderly mum about her cancer, but felt that her Macmillan nurse was brilliant’ in helping her discuss the cancer with her mother. She has started a local cancer support group focussing on gynaecological cancers.
As a result of having had cancer she does feel that she has slowed things down a bit in her life. For instance she doesn’t feel that there is a need to rush about, and tries to enjoy each day as it comes. She’s also given up her full-time job, which has given her a bit more free time.
She has had discussions about how and where she would like to die in case the cancer starts growing again. It’s important for her to build happy memories for herself and others for after she is gone. She does experience quite a lot of pain, and is on morphine to help control it.