July is Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Month, and Target Ovarian Cancer is sharing stories of two inspirational women. Dee and Hema have spoken about how they have been affected by ovarian cancer - and why it's so important to talk about ovarian cancer in their communities.
"My mum Shashi was the most amazing wife, mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law that any of us could ever ask for. She loved her family and we were her world, as she was ours. When she was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in 2012, we were obviously devastated - but we fought it as a family. Mum never complained once throughout the entire time she was having treatment; when she had major surgery, when she received the devastating news that the cancer had come back on more than one occasion, she never gave up fighting. Not once did she ever lose her strength, positivity, spirituality and will to fight. She was a fantastic role model to her children and grandchildren and the entire family remembers her with fondness and love. We sadly lost Mum in March 2016. We were not prepared for the loss.
"British Asian communities can sometimes be conservative, secretive, or seem too embarrassed to speak about cancer. Individuals and families should not have to suffer alone. It is something which should be more talked about openly. In fact, the more it is talked about, the more educated people will feel and the more aware they will be about symptoms, which may help them to be diagnosed earlier. Education is power."
"I had a hysterectomy when I was 31 because I had fibroids. I had not heard of ovarian cancer at all and so presumed the lump in my left hand side was potentially something to do with that. I didn’t get it looked at for eight months, then it started to give me a little bit of pain. I went to my GP; she felt my stomach and wasn’t sure what it was and so she did a CA125 blood test. Within 24 hours she called and asked me to come in, as she was concerned that my blood count was very high, and that it could be ovarian cancer. Things moved pretty quickly from there and I went in for a scan. I then had an appointment for the scan results, and I was obviously very nervous. They couldn’t tell me there and then if it was cancerous but I had to have surgery to remove the lump, which I had three weeks after I recieved the scan results. When I came round, the surgeon came to visit and was 99 per cent sure it was cancer, and it then went off to histology. So then two weeks later I had another appointment at the hospital, where the surgeon told me I had stage IIIA ovarian cancer. Following that, I had six rounds of chemotherapy and maintenance drug bevacizumab (Avastin®) for 18 sessions.
"One of the worst fears about it was the possibility of having a stoma, and I agreed to that. I was lucky that I didn’t wake up with a stoma. I’ve finished all of my treatment now, I actually sailed through chemo. I also attended one of Target Ovarian Cancer's Being Together days, which was really inspirational.
"I think it’s very important to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and the symptoms of the disease in black and minority ethnic communities because people are not aware of the symptoms, and it can vary from one person to another. I spoke to a friend recently who she said she would have no idea what the symptoms were, even though I've had ovarian cancer. The information is there, we just need to make sure it reaches everyone."
Find out more
- Donate today to help us make sure women are diagnised at the earliest possible stage
- Find out how you can get involved with fundraising
- This story was featured in our monthly enewsletter. If you would like to sign up to hear more from us, click here