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Angela counts herself lucky after being diagnosed at stage 1a

When Angela was diagnosed with ovarian cancer almost ten years ago, she knew she wanted to give something back. She talks about the importance of early diagnosis and why leaving a gift in her Will might mean saving lives in future…

If it wasn’t for a simple conversation with a friend, I never would have even thought about ovarian cancer. I waited six months and had to confront my doctor before I received my diagnosis. If I had waited any longer, I might not be here today. That’s why I’m leaving a gift in my Will to Target Ovarian Cancer. I want to make sure GPs are more aware of the symptoms. My hope for the future is for all women to be diagnosed at the earliest opportunity and have the best possible chance of survival.

Not quite right

I was diagnosed nine years ago. At the time I had this awful bloating. It was sort of like an early period pain; a niggle in my lower abdomen. My tummy was so bloated that I felt as if I wanted to put a pin in it and let all the air out. Other than that I felt fine, but I couldn’t ignore my change in size or how uncomfortable I felt, so I booked an emergency GP appointment. Over the years I had experienced various bowel problems linked with my diet and I made the mistake of mentioning this during my visit. I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sent away with fibre gel.

Over the next few months I spoke with a friend in London whose aunt had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She described bloating as one of her symptoms. I soon started researching ovarian cancer on the Internet, but I just didn’t fit any of the other symptoms described. Either way, my symptoms weren’t getting any better, so I decided to go back to my doctor.

The appointment was similar to the previous one except that as I was leaving I mentioned I had been diagnosed with IBS but that I was still uncomfortable. I was told that ‘IBS doesn’t go away overnight’. At this point I just thought, ‘I’m not having this’. I told the doctor I’d looked online and thought I had ovarian cancer. He nearly dropped his pen. He examined me and straight away told me I had a cyst on my ovary the size of a rugby ball. I would need an operation immediately.

Thankfully the cyst hadn’t burst and was removed in its entirety.  After the biopsy it was confirmed that I had ovarian cancer – stage 1a clear cell carcinoma. Fortunately it was very early stages.

A gift

I was so cross about having to confront my doctor and being fobbed off with IBS. What if the cyst had burst? I was very lucky but what if I had left it any longer? Diagnosing early is so important – I know there are so many women worse off than me. A lot of women have to visit their GP several times before their concerns are properly acknowledged. It’s just not acceptable anymore.

I found Target Ovarian Cancer on the Internet when I was writing my Will. I said to my sister that I’d like to leave something to help. I’ve been so lucky and I wanted to give something back. I spoke with both my daughters and they fully supported my decision to leave a gift in my Will. I’ve told them all about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and how important it is to act if they experience any.

If you have been through it, or if you have known someone who has been through it, please think about supporting this worthwhile cause. For me, leaving a gift felt like the right thing to do, and if I ever changed my Will, I would do it all over again. I know that no matter what else happens, my gift to Target Ovarian Cancer will always remain.

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