Three years ago, I was 41. I had two sons, aged 7 and 11 and was raising them on my own. It sounds like a cliché, but until that time, it’s true to say that I felt happy and healthy.
Three years ago, I was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer.
Until the moment of my diagnosis, I honestly don’t think I’d ever heard of ovarian cancer. I certainly wasn’t aware of the symptoms. If I had, I’d like to think I would have been more vocal in demanding to be tested. However, it was only after I’d been to see six different doctors that I was finally diagnosed.
Wednesday 25 February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day. I’m sharing my story in the hope of raising awareness about this devastating disease, and to help raise funds for important Australian medical research currently being undertaken at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, to find a blood-based test to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages.
I know now that the first real symptom I experienced was overwhelming tiredness – the kind of tired that no amount of sleep can cure. I then developed an odd stomach pain that I can still vividly recall. It was a cold pain – like I had ice in my stomach and nothing could make the pain go away. The pain became worse and what should have been simple, everyday tasks like bending down to tie my son’s shoe laces became too painful.