Ten years after her first diagnosis, Jean talks trials, treatments and why she wants to give hope to other women dealing with a recurrence…
Looking back now, I don’t think I ever really felt unwell.
Back in 2007, I’d gone to my doctor complaining of urinary incontinence and received a referral to my local hospital for surgical help with the problem. My GP didn’t seem to think there was anything amiss, and I really wasn’t too worried. Other than the urinary issues, I didn’t feel particularly poorly. The thought that I might have ovarian cancer never even crossed my mind.
I was all set to undergo a TOT (Transobturator tape) procedure to fix the incontinence problem when I first realised there might be something more serious going on. I was being prepped for surgery when a young doctor noticed a lump in my groin. After a series of tests and scans, I was eventually diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
I think my initial reaction was surprise. I had no family history of ovarian cancer and no obvious symptoms. Telling my children and my best friend the news was horrible; it was probably the most difficult part of my diagnosis. Everyone was stunned at first, but once they got over their shock, they were all very supportive.
I was treated with cycles of carbo and taxol chemotherapy, followed by cisplatin and gemcitabine. It’s been 10 years since my original treatment, and unfortunately – due to recurrences – I underwent nine cycles of carboplatin. I’ve also been involved in several clinical trials – including Icon 6.
When I first discovered I was ill, I was contacted by a representative for Target Ovarian Cancer. Since then, I’ve attended Being Together days in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. I found all the events very supportive, and it was great to hear about the latest ovarian cancer research. I also really enjoyed meeting other ladies in a similar situation to myself.
I wanted to share my story now to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer and ensure other ladies receive treatment as soon as possible. I also want to encourage other women who might have been told their cancer is back and that further treatment is needed.
Having ovarian cancer hasn’t changed me. I still meet up with friends and family, and I still enjoy reading, walking, gardening and going to the cinema. The fact that I’m a practicing Christian helps a lot. My faith, along with the support and love from my family, has really helped me to cope. Mostly, I just get on with my life!