For nine months, Michelle Cox fought to be taken seriously.
September is International Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. Every day four women in Australia die from a gynaecological cancer and 16 more are diagnosed. There are currently more than 18,400 women living with these cancers.
There are seven gynaecological cancers – ovarian, uterine (endometrial), vulvar, vaginal, cervical and two rare pregnancy cancers. Ovarian cancer has the poorest outcomes, with only one third of women surviving five years following diagnosis.
Michelle, now aged 46, told Mamamia had a history of cancer in her family – her grandmother and mother both died of the disease – so she was always vigilant with checks.
At 29 she had an ‘abnormal pap’ and had a cone biopsy to remove abnormal cells from her cervix.
Not long after, at age 30, Michelle started noticing weird symptoms including watery discharge and a distended stomach. Having only recently moved to Sydney, Michelle went to a new doctor for treatment and was diagnosed with thrush.