Ann might have sailed through some of the physical aspects of her treatment for ovarian cancer, but the emotional toll wasn’t so easy to deal with…
For me, one of the worst parts of having cancer is breaking the news to the people you love. One of my daughters fainted from the shock. That’s the thing, you can go through it all yourself – all the emotional upheaval and various treatments, but you don’t want the people closest to you to feel sad. You don’t want to put them through pain.
I was only diagnosed because I ended up having an operation for something else – a bowel operation. During the surgery, doctors discovered a growth on my right ovary. They called an ovarian cancer specialist in from another hospital and he removed my right ovary while I was in surgery.
Waking up to the news that you have ovarian cancer is pretty overwhelming. It was all very sudden. Luckily my family were amazing and hugely supportive. After the surgery, I was given a brief two-week recovery period before I underwent six weeks of chemotherapy and then another operation.
I actually found chemo a lot easier than expected. I probably sailed through the physical part of the treatment. I was given anti-sickness medication and had no real side effects – other than hair loss. Emotionally though, losing my hair was tough. It was less about vanity and more about what the hair loss represented to me – it acted as a physical signifier that I had cancer.
I first heard about Target Ovarian Cancer and the support events they run through other people. I went along to the Being Together Day they held in Bath and also the Supporting You event in Cheltenham. I found them both very helpful. It was honestly great to be around other women going through the same thing. It helped get the ball rolling and now I attend a regular gynae cancer support group. I can talk with other people who understand. Sometimes we talk about cancer and what we’ve been through, and sometimes we talk about other things.
I didn’t notice any ovarian cancer symptoms, but even if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to look out for anyway. That’s why symptom awareness is so important. Now I want to share my story to help inspire others to learn more about ovarian cancer and its symptoms.