This is Michelle. ‘Mich’ to her loved ones.
She is mum to Finnigan, 4, and Eloise, almost 2, and last year she celebrated her 40th birthday.
An architect by trade, she is from the United States originally, and moved to Australia with her husband in 2009.
When she isn’t hanging out with her family, Mich loves visiting art museums and making handmade gifts for friends. She is in the process of, possibly, setting up her own business.
Despite knowing all of these things about Michelle, I’ve never met her.
But I know she is loved fiercely by her husband, my mate Matt.
Last November, Mich, Matt, Finn and Ellie were five days away from embarking on a six-week holiday to the USA when the unthinkable happened—Mich was diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer.
Eight days after she visited her GP because ‘things didn’t feel right’, Mich was undergoing a full hysterectomy.
She now faces early menopause, but it beats the alternative—each year 1400 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 1000 will die from the disease. That’s one woman every eight hours!
Even now, five months later, Mich still recalls the moment her GP called with the news that she may have ovarian cancer.
“I was sitting in the childcare parking lot with my son in the back seat. The doctor called me to say the ultrasound showed a compound cyst on my right ovary with blood flow to it. She said it could be ovarian cancer, but they would need to do some more tests and she booked me in to see a specialist,” Mich said.
“I went into a cold sweat.”
That night, Mich and Matt did what any other couple would do; they Googled.
“We were both looking up stuff and went back and forth. I didn’t know it was common to have cysts on your ovaries so we thought it was probably that and just disregarded the bit about the blood flow,” she said.
More tests followed and the couple convinced themselves the mass was most likely an ovarian cyst.
“That put our minds at ease until we saw the surgeon the following Monday,” Mich said.
“I was also tested for the C-125 protein—which helps in indicating a tumor marker—and it came back negative.
“Later we were told there the test for C-125 is only 50 per cent accurate, especially the first time but once you’ve had cancer it’s more accurate at giving you truer tumor marker.”