Article shared by Jo Yates, founder of the FUCancer.network (Fabulous You During Cancer)
Obviously cancer is something that happens to other people, not me.
Of course you have symptoms; lumps & bumps, aches & pains that warn you something is wrong.
Oh how wrong I was!
In August 2021, I psyched myself up & went for my pap test. Like most women I do not enjoy this experience so usually put it off as long as possible. In this instance thank goodness I put on my big girl pants and cracked on with it rather than avoiding it.
Although a pap smear isn’t able to detect ovarian cancer this pap was the start of a life changing experience I never expected to undergo.
A week after the test I got a call from my GP, she told me not to worry but there was an anomaly in the results. She suspected endometriosis and wanted to send me for further tests. I casually headed off for an ultrasound & blood tests and it turns out this (non related) anomalie quite literally saved my life.
The ultrasound showed large masses on both my ovaries and so my cancer whirlwind began.
I had no obvious symptoms so I was shocked to find out my ovaries had grown tumours the size of my fist (they are meant to be around the size of an almond) and these tumours were potentially cancerous.
The second big surprise I had was that there is no way to test if these tumours are malignant or benign unless you have them removed. There was also no chance to save eggs for potential future pregnancies as it was too dangerous just in case the tumours were malignant.
Within a week I had gone from living an active lifestyle, feeling the best I had in years to being told I needed a hysterectony, I might have cancer and I was going to be in menopause at 42. The speed at which a cancer diagnosis changes your life is a shock, to say my head was spinning is an understatement.
It was an incredibly scary time but with the expertise of my oncology team and the support of my partner, family and friends I got through a hysterectomy & 18 rounds of chemotherapy and am now in remission.
Now I know more I did actually have symptoms but they were so subtle I didn’t think twice about them.
The symptoms are vague and often dismissed as something else such as ageing or digestive issues which is why ovarian cancer is known as a silent killer of women.
During this experience I was also surprised to learn that ovarian cancer has no early detection, I can’t count the number of times I have given thanks to my GP and her diligence. My story could have been very, very different.
Now I’m in remission I want to help spread the word through FUCancer.network so other women have the best chance of survival – look out for symptoms such as:
- Vague abdominal pain or pressure
- Feeling of abdominal fullness, gas, nausea, indigestion—different to your normal sensations
- Sudden abdominal swelling, weight gain or bloating
- Persistent changes in bowel or bladder patterns
- Low backache or cramps
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pain during intercourse
- Unexplained weight loss