After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer at such a young age, Allison struggled to come to terms with the impact the disease had on her fertility. She opens up about her experiences and explains why cancer has given her the confidence to face the unknown…
One of the things I’ve learnt from my own experience is that you need to trust your body. Notice things that are wrong, and if something isn’t right for you – women and men – you need to follow your body. If I hadn’t listened to my body, it might have been too late for me.
I stumbled across Target Ovarian Cancer when I was looking at advice for younger women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I wanted to see what information was out there for people my age.
I’d first gone to my doctor because I kept having a pain on my lower left hand side. I’d also had backaches since I was 16, on and off. The doctor did a urine test and told me it was an infection and prescribed me a course of antibiotics.
At first the pain went away, but a month later it came back – worse than before. The backache got worse too. I also lost my appetite and suffered with bloating. This time my doctor sent me for an ultrasound. The test was really painful and I knew something was wrong. Afterwards, I went to work, but I was in so much pain that I got sent home. On the Sunday my mum and sister came down from Wales and we went to A&E. They did a smear test which seemed okay to them but was told I had to wait for the results of the ultrasound. On the Monday I got a phone call from the GP who said the scan showed a 12cm lump on my right ovary. I was shocked.
The hospital performed a laparotomy. They thought I had a dysgerminoma tumour – often found in younger women – but there was a very small chance it might be cancerous. Six weeks after the operation, the doctor told me that I had Stage II ovarian cancer and that I would have to have chemotherapy.
Before starting the chemo, I was referred to a fertility specialist to collect my eggs. This was probably the hardest part for me. It forced me to think about the future, but I also felt like the decisions were taken out of my hands. After three weeks of injections they only managed to collect one egg. It was so upsetting to hear that they’d only collected one egg, and I was crying so much. They called the fertility specialist and he came down and was really honest. He calmed me down and they recommended that I go and speak to a counsellor.
Fear of the unknown
I had a couple of bad days during the first round of chemo, but the second and third chemo were worse. I ended up with an infection and my temperature was up and down.
Now I’ve been given the all clear, and I definitely think the whole experience has changed me for the better. It changed my mentality and taught me that it’s okay to put yourself first. Now I feel more confident. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to face your fear of the unknown. If I can get out of my comfort zone and go through a surgery and chemotherapy, then I can do anything!