Diane, 40, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. Frustrated by the delays she experienced in being diagnosed, she is passionate about speaking out to make sure other women do not suffer the same issues. Diane lives with her teenage son in Walthamstow, London.
I knew something was wrong with me, I didn’t feel well at all. I had pain in my abdomen and groin, I lost my appetite and struggled to eat. I was being sick, had bowel problems and lower back pain.
At the end of April 2012, when my right leg started swelling, I went to my GP who immediately sent me to A&E. I was misdiagnosed with having a superficial blood clot in my vein, after having a CT scan and ultrasound. I was admitted to hospital for eight days, I had very high blood pressure, my blood count was very low, and was treated with Caelyx, to thin out my blood. The doctors then discharged me, even though my leg was bigger than when I’d gone in, saying I should go home and “put my feet up”. I was distraught, and said I didn’t feel I was ready to go home and still didn’t feel well. I went back to my GP the next day, who was very annoyed, and she sent me back to the hospital with a letter saying that I should be referred to a different consultant.
Between May and June 2012, I was back and forth between the hospital and my GP, having more tests taken. I was admitted to hospital four more times with the same symptoms. Sometimes they couldn’t find my notes from the previous visits or some of my scan results had disappeared.
In July my GP referred me to a private clinic in Canary Wharf, where I had the same tests that I had had done in April. The tests clarified that I had enlarged lymph nodes in my stomach, and an enlarged uterus. This information was sent back to my GP, who referred me back to hospital, with a covering letter stating that this needed to be looked at urgently. They repeated the scans that had been done in April and realised that they had missed something, and apologised.
Diagnosis of ovarian cancer
Eventually my GP had had enough and referred me to a new consultant in a different hospital. I had a biopsy in my groin, which seemed to be the centre of the pain and swelling, and that came back cancer free, but my doctor and I both insisted that I have a more in-depth biopsy in the side of my stomach. The hospital rang on a Friday to say I had to come in, urgently, but not until the Monday. It was a horrible, anxious weekend of waiting. It was then that I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
I had just turned 40 in April 2012, was diagnosed in August 2012, had three chemotherapy sessions, then had surgery – a hysterectomy, plus removal of some of my stomach lining, fatty tissues from my abdomen, and lymph nodes as the cancer had already spread. This was followed by three more chemotherapy sessions. The signs were looking good, so I was finally feeling positive about my future.
Know your body
I still feel upset and angry at the long distressing delay in being diagnosed. I had to make so much effort to keep going back and asking for more tests, but I didn’t feel listened to when I tried to talk about my symptoms. I won’t ever know if catching it earlier would have made any difference but all that time it was growing and spreading. If I had listened and just gone home, as the hospital told me numerous times, I would not be here today.
My advice to everyone, male or female, is to know your body. Go to your GP if something does not feel right and keep a diary of how you're feeling so you have proof of what's happening.
Please, please, never give up. God’s willing I will be in remission of ovarian cancer for 3 years in March 2016.
- Read more about the symptoms of ovarian cancer
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