Like many women with ovarian cancer, Agnes struggled with the emotional impact of her diagnosis. It was only when she began talking to other women in a similar situation, that she finally found the support she needed…
After my second round of chemotherapy I got very down.
The treatment floored me. I was tired, scared and struggling with the idea that no one at the hospital was really listening to me or offering support. Most of the time I felt like just another cog in the machine. One of the things that really helped me was meeting other women with ovarian cancer. I could get together with them and talk about things. They understood what I was going through – they just got it. Sometimes you’ve just got to push yourself to get out there and meet new people.
Looking for answers
Before I received my diagnosis of ovarian cancer, I was having so many problems – needing to go to the toilet constantly, frequent water infections, tummy pain and a bad back. In the past, I’d been given pain medicine and referred to an incontinence clinic. The doctor never really pushed to try and diagnose anything else.
Finally, a locum doctor sent me for a CA125 blood test and an ultrasound. Two weeks later I had a phone call at work, and the doctor told me that all the indications were that I had ovarian cancer. Finally I was referred to Liverpool Women’s Hospital where I was sent for a CT scan, but they didn’t get the results very quickly and I had to wait until after Christmas to hear more. The cancer turned out to be stage III high grade serous carcinoma – and I was booked to have surgery in January. I had six rounds of chemo – paclitaxel and carboplatin – then bevacizumab (Avastin ®), a maintenance drug.
I then had a recurrence, and have recently finished another round of chemo, this time with a different drug, Caelyx.
Making new friends
My first experience of Target Ovarian Cancer was through a Being Together event that was held in Preston; it was great! It was nice to meet other people and talk about things. I also attend a support group at Maggie’s Centre in Clatterbridge, and I meet three or four women every week for coffee. One of the women doesn’t get out of the house very much, and the other lady was diagnosed at the same time as me. I feel like I’ve known these two women all my life. We’ve nattered away, had days out together, weekends away and we all came along to the Being Together event in Preston.
Even with support, things can still be difficult. I have a dog grooming business and financial management is hard. I had no critical illness insurance because I didn’t think of it. When you own your own business it’s a personal service, and people can lose confidence in you. I worked full-time until a little while ago, but now I do a few days per week. It’s better when I’m working because I don't get as depressed.
I just wish there was more awareness out there. So many people I’ve met think that the smear test will pick up ovarian cancer. I want to tell people not to be afraid to challenge their doctors. The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be quiet, but they are there!