Lynn, from Staffordshire, is a postwoman and mum living with ovarian cancer. Like many women, Lynn had never even heard of ovarian cancer, let alone knew of the symptoms. As a result, it was months before she was diagnosed in the advanced stages of ovarian cancer. She now campaigns for symptoms awareness.
I’d always considered myself fairly fit and healthy. But, aged 48, I was diagnosed in A&E with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
It all started about two and a half years earlier when I had some bowel problems and diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
I had a prolapse and had to go into hospital for operation. They thought it was caused by carrying heavy bags of mail in my job as a postwoman.
After my operation I immediately started having bladder problems and was recommended physio for a weak pelvic floor. They suspected this was caused by having a big baby and me being petite.
Then I started having problems with my clothes feeling tight, even though I was beginning to struggle with eating. It was only when my sister thought I looked pregnant that it really clicked something was dreadfully wrong. I’d had a hysterectomy six years earlier so there was no way I could be pregnant.
I saw my GP, who organised blood and breathing tests. By this time, my stomach was very swollen and I was having breathing problems.
In a twist of fate, my friend, who’s a Macmillan nurse, told me to go straight to A&E. I finally agreed to go, and after 48 hours and countless tests, I got the diagnosis: ovarian cancer.
I had to have debulking surgery to remove the tumour, and six chemotherapy sessions. At the time it seemed rough, but, in reality, I sailed through it. I went back to work after the second chemotherapy session, on reduced hours.
I was put on Avastin, a drug that aims to prevent the cancer recurring. I was the first person to use Avastin after a first diagnosis (it’s normally given after a recurrence of cancer). I had 15 infusions – but had to stop after that because of the side effects.
Raising symptoms awareness
Before I was diagnosed, I hadn’t even heard of ovarian cancer, or been aware of the symptoms. My experience has made me determined to raise symptoms awareness. Early diagnosis can save lives and make treatment easier.
I sent my story and information on ovarian cancer symptoms to 1,885 managers within Royal Mail, who also published the story in its in-house magazine. My local paper did a three-page spread on my story and I’ve been on two radio shows. My local hospital’s in house magazine also wrote about it.
I’ve given information leaflets and posters to GP surgeries and put them in our Royal Mail public collection office.
I’ve also done some campaigning work, including addressing MPs at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer about improving access to Avastin.
I want to make sure fewer women have to go through what I did.
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