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Marion's diagnosis came after experiencing abdominal pain

When Marion went to the doctor complaining of severe abdominal pain, her GP gave her a choice: she could accept that her symptoms were probably just scar tissue from an earlier surgery, or she could undergo an ultrasound and find out for sure. Marion explains why her decision to ‘follow things through’ might well have ended up saving her life…

Each time I was sent for a new test I had to wait a week or more. It was a very confusing and upsetting time, having to wait for tests and results. In the end I had to push for the diagnosis.

Persistence

After suffering from severe abdominal pain that lasted for two days, I decided to make an appointment to go and see my GP. I’d already had a hysterectomy back in 2011, so when the doctor said she could feel a lump in my stomach she thought that it was probably just scar tissue. Fortunately, she gave me the choice of going for a scan. I said yes because I wanted to follow things through.

Then, the morning of my scan appointment, I was driving to work and I began experiencing severe abdominal pain. I was sick and when my partner came to pick me up he called 999. I ended up missing the appointment for the scan I had that afternoon.

I was taken to A&E where they tested blood and urine for an infection, but found nothing. I felt terrible when I got home because I’d missed the scan. I went back to my GP and was re-referred. When I finally did have the ultrasound, the sonographer could see something and sent me back to my doctor. I got a call from the GP who said they’d found a mass and they didn’t know what it was. He mentioned it could be cancer and I was referred to a gynaecologist.

Atypical

Even though everyone kept saying I was too young to have ovarian cancer and that my case was atypical, eventually I was diagnosed with stage III high-grade ovarian cancer. My mum was with me in the hospital when they gave me the news.

I was told I needed to start chemotherapy before I could undergo surgery. For me, chemo was probably one of the toughest parts. The day I got my diagnosis I spoke to my sister and the only thing I could think of first was that I was going to lose my hair. Seeing it come out in clumps in the shower was very difficult.

In the end I shaved it off and wore scarves. The chemo ward was also not what I had expected. I’d assumed it would be a normal ward with normal beds, so I was shocked when I got there and saw so many people who were really ill.

Genes

Towards the end of my treatment, I was given access to genetic testing. I found out a couple of months later that I carry the BRCA gene mutation. Since the result, my mum, sisters, daughter and one of my sons have also had the testing.

Although my mum and daughter don’t have the gene, my younger sister and my youngest son do. The result means I now have to consider undergoing a preventative double mastectomy.

Support

I’m lucky enough to have received some amazing support throughout my treatment. My family in particular played a huge role in my recovery; I couldn’t have got through it without the support of my mum, my sisters my children and my partner.

Just before I went back to work, I decided to go and speak to a counsellor, which was great. The whole experience was non-judgemental and really helped me get back to feeling a bit more normal.

Although I’d heard of ovarian cancer before I was diagnosed, I had no idea of the symptoms. Now I want to make other women aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. I want to help other people.

That’s why it’s so important to share my story. If other women can be diagnosed earlier, then it’s worth it.

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