Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and with it I should have visited my GP in the summer of 2012. But I was busy and the lump I could feel on the left of my tummy was sometimes on the left or I could not feel it at all. So I didn’t do anything. By September my clothes had got a bit tight and I had put on a bit of weight, but at 54, what did I expect? Then I started feeling bloated, having bouts of constipation and bursting for a wee most of the time.
Having read an article in a magazine earlier in the year about ovarian cancer I now thought it could be something more than middle age spread and so did my GP, as by one o’clock on the day of my appointment I had had a blood test and a hospital appointment for a few days later. The appointment was with at a general surgery clinic and I saw a gastric specialist who could find nothing wrong but sent me for a CT scan anyway. After that everything seemed to happen in three week ‘blocks’. Three weeks for the results: ovarian cysts. Three weeks for an appointment with gynaecology. By now it was the beginning of December.
I could tell by their reaction that they thought it was something else. Although they did not say at this point I thought it was what I had suspected earlier on: cancer. I was sent for more blood tests and a MRI scan. The scan was a week later, but again it was three weeks for a follow up appointment and the results which I got on Christmas Eve.
The day before the appointment was changed to an office appointment rather than clinic. By now I was in considerable discomfort and on painkillers. On 27 December I was finally told that it was ovarian cancer.
My operation for a total hysterectomy, omentectomy and lymph node removal was scheduled for 22 January. A few day before I ended up in A&E in excruciating pain and given stronger painkillers. The histology immediately after the operation showed it had not spread but the ovaries had split, hence the pain. The full histology report showed stage 1C (both ovaries) and grade 3 (aggressive).
I was given the option as to whether I had chemotherapy or not. With the ovaries splitting and the cancer aggressive I decided to have the chemo. I was fortunate. Apart from the hair loss I suffered virtually no side effects. I had to go four to six weeks between sessions to let my blood levels recover so this dragged it out for almost six months, but I was fine.
One of things I was not told was that cancer patients are entitled to free prescriptions for five years. I had vague recollections of hearing something somewhere, so looked it up on the internet. If nothing else you need it to get a wig on the NHS!
It is now two years since I finished my treatment and I am now on six monthly checks. Fortunately for me my delay did not affect my outcome, but I could have saved myself a lot of pain.
- Find out more about the symptoms of ovarian cancer
- Sign up to The Ovarian Cancer Walk
- Read Suzanne's daughter's story