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Marie wants young women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer

After Marie and her partner struggled to conceive for two years, she decided to see a fertility specialist. An ultrasound revealed cysts on the ovaries. During an operation to remove the cysts, the doctors found a mass which they thought was an infection. Weeks later, Marie got a diagnosis of ovarian cancer… 

I had no idea about the symptoms of ovarian cancer before my diagnosis. I would have just put it down to ‘women’s things’. Now I know better, and I want others to learn about them as well.

Struggling to conceive

My partner and I had been trying for a baby for two years and nothing was happening. So we both decided to go for tests. After an ultrasound scan, they found that I had cysts on my ovaries. I had an operation to remove the cysts, but they had also noticed a mass which the doctors put down as an infection. I was given antibiotics to clear it.

I went on my own to see the fertility doctor at the same hospital after my operation. It was then that I got the diagnosis of stage II ovarian cancer. I was in complete shock and broke down in tears. I wish they’d done things a bit differently and that I hadn’t got the diagnosis alone.  

I was given an appointment to immediately see a gynae cancer specialist. I had a full hysterectomy with the removal of my cervix and appendix. I went from worrying about being able to have a baby, to being unable to get pregnant, which was devastating.

I had six rounds of chemotherapy with paclitaxel and carboplatin. I felt sick sometimes, but I found trying different flavours and types of food really helped. For me, eating certain types of foods like bread, ice cream, ginger biscuits and tea as well as foods rich in carbohydrates, like bread and pasta, was very effective against the post-chemotherapy sickness. I also discovered that swirling sea salt around in my mouth worked much better for mouth ulcers than the medication you buy from the chemist.

Finding support

I found great support on a Facebook page for women with ovarian cancer. This page was brilliant for voicing my concerns and getting advice and tips from women who were going through the same thing as me. Once, I posted about feeling weak and out of breath, and people commented saying I should go to the hospital to get checked out. It turned out my white blood cells were low. I have found so much support from this group – it’s a brilliant space for people to talk about how they’re feeling and discuss anything they’re worried about.

I also went on some courses for people with a cancer diagnosis run by Macmillan. It was really helpful to meet other women with ovarian cancer and be able to discuss our mental health, diets and lives.

Looking ahead

It’s been four years now since my diagnosis, and I’ve managed to get my life back on track. Although it was devastating at first, I have come to terms with not being able to have another child. I’m keeping myself active, and enjoying regular yoga, swimming and Pilates.

Now I want to support other young women, and raise awareness of the importance of knowing the symptoms in order to be diagnosed earlier. 

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