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Lisa was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 21

At 21, ovarian cancer was the last thing on Lisa’s mind. Then she suddenly found out that she had a tumour. “They told me it was ovarian cancer and it flipped my whole world upside down.”

At 21, ovarian cancer was the last thing on mind. I was pursuing my dreams and I was living in Hawaii. Then all of a sudden I found out I had a tumour.

I didn’t realise it was something that could happen to me. The last thing on my mind was that I could ever get sick. When they told me it was ovarian cancer it flipped my whole world upside down. It's changed me as a person 100 per cent, especially as a young person because you don’t see it coming it's a big shock. I’ve had to think about whether I want to have children or not. At 21 I didn’t think I’d have to think about.

The doctors gave me the news during an appointment with my mum... She was my rock. As soon as the doctor said ‘its cancer’, I didn’t hear anything else. He told me everything in one go and I didn’t absorb anything about what he was saying, my mum was asking the questions. I didn’t think it was possible that it was cancer, for me it was a shock.

Lisa Arthurs

In the beginning I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know how to tell people so I only told my immediate family and my best friends. And I asked them not to tell anyone.

Psychological impact

No one in my family knew how to deal with it, we didn’t realise it was something that would have any kind psychological impact, just the physical illness. We all thought after the operation everything would be fine. If you have something going on, the worst thing you can do is not talk about it. During the first treatment I didn’t tell nearly enough people, or seek enough support from my loved ones.

I was offered psychological help in the NHS, but I couldn't bring myself to go. In hindsight I wish I had gone but I just couldn’t make myself vulnerable about my illness again, at least that’s how I viewed it. 

There's still such a stigma around counselling where I’m from – I thought I was a strong person, I thought I could get through it. I also thought, I’m almost a year down the line – I thought I had already made so much progress on my own that I just didn’t feel the need to go, but I wish that I had. I hope people understand what services are available to them.

Now I will go a week without thinking about what happened. I go most days without even thinking about the word cancer at all anymore, which is great because it used to really get me down. I’ve come to a point in my recovery where I don’t want to think about it right now and that's okay.

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