Whenever Julie is looking for strength to help her cope with her diagnosis, she just closes her eyes and remembers her mother’s voice…
"There’s nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it…" that’s what my mum always used to tell me. That’s why, when this disease returns – and it floors me every time it does – I refuse to give in. I hear my mum’s words echoing in my head and I just pick myself up and start again.
The Closet Queen
Prior to my diagnosis I would have described myself as a very healthy and active 53-year-old woman. Like many other ladies I was unaware of any issues with my health until about a fortnight before I was told I had ovarian cancer.
The only real symptom I’d had prior to this was a need to run to the loo to pee very frequently. At the time I’d just written this off as ‘the menopause’. My lovely mum used to joke and call me ‘the closet queen’ because everywhere we went I had to find the toilet and make a visit.
Then, two weeks prior to my diagnosis I started to lose my appetite, feel full quickly and was sometimes struck with nausea. Although my doctor told me she thought it was irritable bowel syndrome and gave me some medicine, when my stomach started to swell I knew something was wrong. My partner took me to my local A&E and the doctors there examined me and took some bloods. At this point they wanted to discharge me to wait for a CT scan, but I refused to leave. I knew something more serious was going on and demanded a scan be done that day. It was only when the scan had been done and results obtained that I was told I had stage III high grade serous carcinoma.
Since my diagnosis I’ve had two recurrences and a whole variety of different treatment protocols. Most recently I commenced treatment with cisplatin and gemcitabine, after which I’ll hopefully be put on another parp-inhibitor. I am so very grateful for all the treatment I have so far received via our brilliant NHS; all the doctors and nurses I have met have been kind, professional and dedicated.
Despite everything I try to remain positive – even though it’s very hard sometimes. I’m determined to enjoy my life as best I possibly can, especially when I’m not having treatment. I love to travel and my aim is to do a world cruise for three months in the very near future. There are new drugs being discovered all the time and I am determined to keep going. Hopefully I’ll be around for quite a few years yet!
I must add that I have been so very fortunate to have a wonderful family and a handful of great friends who continue to support and help me along the way. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Lastly, I cannot tell my story without my lovely wonderful mum's story. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2014 and lost her battle only a few months later. She never once complained or asked ‘why me?’. She faced her illness with so much bravery, courage and even humour. She tried to be positive and enjoy the few pleasures she had left in her life – spending time with her family and watching her favourite musicals. Whenever I feel down I just remember her words: “Our Ju, there’s nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it”. She was and always will be my inspiration. Thank you Mam.