Lorraine was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer aged 41. She looks back on her diagnosis and treatment, and tells us about her fundraising for Target Ovarian Cancer.
I started feeling 'out of sorts' around Christmas.
I’d gone off my food, kept getting stomach ache and feeling sick. I felt out of breath when I did any sort of exercise, which I put down to overindulgence during the holiday period.
The symptoms continued to get worse. I felt bloated and had to buy new clothes because I was gaining weight, even though I was on a diet.
I couldn't sit comfortably at my desk at work and constantly had to go to the toilet to wee. I suffered with chronic constipation and, even when I did move my bowels, it didn't feel like I’d completely emptied them.
I wondered if this was a bad flare up of IBS.
First trip to my GP
By the end of February I was feeling so poorly and miserable I booked an appointment with a GP.
As I walked into the surgery there were posters up for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, listing some of the most common symptoms:
- persistent bloating
- feeling full very quickly
- needing to wee more often
- changes to your bowels
That was the first time I considered it might be something serious.
My GP examined me and immediately ordered some blood tests. There was a marker in the blood used as an indicator for inflammation in the pelvic area – mine was quite high. I later learned this was called the CA125.
Tests and diagnosis
I was referred to a gynaecologist for further investigations.
My tummy was filled with fluid called ascites and this was making it difficult to find my ovaries. They drained off five litres of fluid from my stomach, some of which was sent to the lab for further tests.
I was introduced to a Macmillan nurse so I knew it was pretty serious.
In March, on the day my Nanna died of stomach cancer – I was told they’d found cancer cells in the fluid. My next set of scans had to be fitted around my Nanna’s funeral.
The CT scan confirmed I had something called primary peritoneal cancer. The peritoneal is the lining of the tummy. This not only contains the ovaries but also the kidneys, liver and pancreas, as well as the digestive system.
Moving closer to family
I decided to move closer to my family, handed my notice in at work and got a referral to The Christie in Manchester.
My new consultant was not satisfied with my initial diagnosis and wanted a biopsy to confirm the type of cancer because it would influence my treatment options.
Unfortunately my diagnosis did not turn out to be straight forward. After a series of painful procedures, I was eventually diagnosed with a low grade ovarian cancer at the end of July after having surgery. Low grade means that the cancer grows and spreads very slowly.
My cancer was not curable because it was quite advanced and I needed chemotherapy to mop up the cancer cells.
Two years later, after further treatment, I am now taking a drug called Avastin to prolong my remission period.
Running for charity
There are days I feel sad and angry, when I consider what I’ve given up for the cancer. However, writing my blog has helped me look back and consider what I’ve gained since my diagnosis.
I love to run, but having cancer now makes it a bit more challenging. These days it is all about staying healthy, raising awareness and money. Target Ovarian Cancer has done so much for me. It has given me something to focus on and helped me adjust. Now I want to do something for them.
Watch Lorraine's video
Lorraine recently reached her £1,000 target and is part of Target 1000. Thank you for all your fundraising and support, Lorraine.
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