Like any bride-to-be, Teresa knew exactly how she wanted to look in her wedding dress, but when she struggled to fit into the gown due to a bloated tummy, she began to worry that something might be wrong. After being diagnosed with stage II ovarian cancer, Teresa talks about the effect the disease had on her mental health, and why the journey doesn’t end when the treatment stops...
I was 49 when I got ovarian cancer.
That word - ‘cancer’ - is very scary. Your whole world stops; you’re frozen.
Looking back, I know I felt really tired. I kept thinking that maybe I had a water infection because I was also going to the toilet a lot at work and I had a dull ache in my pelvis.
I was in the middle of planning my wedding at the time, and I remember trying on my wedding dress and noticing that it was tight on my stomach. I decided to make an appointment to see my GP. She sent me for a CA125 blood test - and later an ultrasound. Although the ultrasound technician didn’t say anything to me at the time, I just had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
The ‘C’ word
Following my ultrasound I was sent for an MRI scan - a very unpleasant experience - and a CT scan. Still nobody said anything to me about cancer, or about ovarian cancer.
Finally, I was referred to the gynae department at my local hospital, and they told me that they were going to refer me to a specialist team for surgery. Two weeks after my operation I was told I had stage II ovarian cancer and that I would need chemotherapy.
Since my treatment ended I’ve had no recurrences. Now I just go back for regular CT scans and CA125 tests.
After chemo ended I decided to go back to work full-time. I thought I’d feel really happy when it was over, but I just felt really down. Fortunately, my doctor sent me to a support centre for counselling. I also changed my diet and started exercising. Out of everything, the mental health difficulties have been the hardest. I could do an operation again, I could do chemo again, but it’s what happens when it all stops - that’s the hardest part. I just didn’t know what to do with myself. You have to rebuild your life.
Luckily, I’m in a much better place now; I’ve realised I’m not alone.
I want to raise public awareness and understanding of the disease. It’s something that any woman can get. I was just lucky that I got diagnosed early.
Last year I decided to do The Ovarian Cancer Walk with Target Ovarian Cancer. It was amazing to see all the people there, and I felt very touched to have taken part. Being able to give something back was a great feeling. Doing stuff like this makes me feel so proud.