For many women with ovarian cancer, the prospect of treatment can be almost as frightening as the diagnosis itself. Louise shares her experience of ovarian cancer and why chemotherapy isn’t a scary as you think...
I want more people to know about chemo and the symptoms of ovarian cancer. There’s a lot of fear around chemotherapy in particular. Yes, it can be horrible, but it’s not as frightening as it’s made out on TV. There are so many misconceptions about the treatment - that’s something I want to help break down.
I’d heard of ovarian cancer - but I didn’t know the symptoms. The first time I really noticed something being wrong was when my tummy started feeling uncomfortable. My abdomen was very bloated and the swelling never seemed to go away. The idea that I might have ovarian cancer was somewhere in the back of my mind, but I didn’t want to think too much about it.
I decided to go and see my GP anyway - even though I thought I’d probably just come away with antibiotics for what I thought was IBS. Thankfully, my GP did a CA125 blood test, and one week later I was referred to a specialist at the local hospital. After a few more tests – scans, and one ultrasound - the gynaecologist told me that it could be ovarian cancer.
Doctors were keen to put an ascites drain in to help ease my abdominal swelling. After a bad reaction with the first drain (they thought I had sepsis), I was sent to a local hospice where I had around 9 litres of fluid removed. I was also sent for surgery, for a hysterectomy. After the operation, the doctors told me that this hadn’t been successful, and they hadn’t been able to remove any of the cancer because it was more widely spread than they initially thought.
After the unsuccessful surgery I started chemotherapy. After three sessions of chemo I had a scan and the consultant informed me that signs of cancer had been reduced and they would reattempt the hysterectomy. I had responded well to the chemotherapy treatment.
The second hysterectomy was successful and as soon as I had recovered from the surgery I started chemotherapy. Luckily, I responded well. My recovery has been a long journey so far and I’m gradually getting fitter, I think walking has really helped me feel better.
I think there are a lot of misconceptions around chemotherapy. I’ve had a lot of friends asking questions and it’s not as frightening if you know the facts. I want more people to know about chemotherapy and about ovarian cancer.
Target Ovarian Cancer
I discovered Target Ovarian Cancer after a quick Google search. I found lots of information on the website and even attended a Being Together Day. The event was really informative. I liked the nutrition session, and it was reassuring to hear that it’s fine to continue be vegetarian. It was also great to have a Q&A session with health professionals.
Now my message to other women would be ‘if you’re worried, go to your doctor!’ So many people don’t know anything about cancer – they don’t know the symptoms or the tests to ask for. I know it’s frightening, but if people knew more about it they might be less scared. People need to know to act fast. If you act quickly, you can hopefully get better - you can get treatment.