I had just turned 30 and returned after a few years living in London and backpacking around the world when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the first time.
My ovarian cancer story began with what I would later learn were some of the key signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. I was feeling very bloated, my stomach was distended and I could not go to the toilet. Like many women, I was initially misdiagnosed.
My GP was treating me for constipation and only after six weeks with no reprieve he told me I needed to visit my local hospital to see if they could help. I was admitted on arrival. The next morning, I was taken for a scan where doctors found a 20cm x 30cm tumour on my left ovary. Initially, doctors told me they were 95 per cent sure it was benign, but after biopsy I got the call … it was malignant. I commenced treatment.
Just under two years later, I started feeling tired and bloated again and 'not quite right'. I had been having my tumour marker tests and check-ups at the hospital regularly and, so far, had been told that I was ‘all clear’. I wasn’t sure about this. My body was telling me otherwise.
I had just moved into the city; I went to a new GP and expressed my concern that there may be something going on. He told me I was being paranoid and that the stress of my job was the cause of my symptoms. I felt patronised. I knew that he wasn’t right. I knew that I had to listen to my body.
A couple of weeks later, I went for my usual check-up with my oncologist and discussed my concerns. He decided to send me for a scan – even though my tumour markers had once again come back clear – and put my mind at ease. I booked the scan for the next day, but before I could leave home, I experienced excruciating pain, I couldn’t walk and was forced to call an ambulance.