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"The first moment ovarian cancer made itself known."

Jane Lucas

By JANE LUCAS

I can remember the day like it was yesterday. It was October 2011 and I had been to a yoga class the day before, when I first felt a pain in my right side. Thinking I’d just pulled a muscle from one of the yoga poses I shrugged it off as nothing.

Little did I know at the time, but that pain in my abdomen was the first moment ovarian cancer made itself known as it had taken hold in my body. This was the start of something that would change the course of the rest of my life.

When the pain didn’t go away for a few days and seemed to be getting sharper I decided to visit the GP to get it checked out.

The doctor felt a mass in my abdominal area which I was told was similar in size to that of a five month pregnant belly. I told her with a guilty grin that I just thought I had been eating too much cheese!

Everything after that moment happened, so quick. Initially the tests came back to show a cyst and I was sent in for an ultrasound, and then they told me it was a fibroid (benign tumour). It wasn’t until I went in for an optional MRI scan that they told me it was cancer.

I was sent into surgery in November where they were able to remove the whole mass intact. All of the diseased cells were encapsulated within the tumour which was a good sign, according to the doctor. The cells however displayed traits of gastrointestinal cells so rather than an ovarian cancer they suspected it to be secondary from somewhere else.

In January 2012 after six weeks of tests and scans to determine whether the cancer was in fact secondary, I received the final diagnosis that it was a rare subtype of a primary ovarian cancer. It was stage one so thanks to this early detection and the success in surgery, I didn’t need to undergo any aggressive ongoing treatment like chemotherapy.

Considering that two in three women don’t survive ovarian cancer and early detection is the only measure we have against the disease, if I hadn’t have addressed the symptoms when I did I probably wouldn’t be here today.

Since the operation I have recovered well although my stomach will never look the same and I certainly can’t do as many sit-ups as I used to! I also now think a little differently about my current career. The job can sometimes put me in situations of high risk of injury or exposure to infectious disease and I worry that shift work may also affect my general wellbeing. Since the cancer I have a new found sense of self-preservation and appreciation of work / life balance.

I am back practicing yoga and living a healthy and enjoyable life with my partner – who is an advocate for sustainable living and has a keen passion for discovering the link between food and diseases.

I recently moved from Brunswick to Geelong and my husband and I got married. We now have several raised veggie patches where we grow our own food and we try to eat organic produce whenever possible. I truly believe that diet and clean eating are key factors towards the prevention of disease and illness. I have always looked after myself and I believe this played an important role in the early detection and therefore my prognosis.

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I still get a little nervous sometimes when I feel back pain or bloating, but the best thing I can say is that it is better to go and get something checked at the doctor and return home feeling just a little silly that your being paranoid, than to not ask the question until it’s too late.

Naturally I have since been keen to learn more about cancer and research into ovarian cancer in particular I find quite exciting and extremely important as new approaches appear to be making some good progress. Supporting research in this area really will make quite a significant difference for women who are yet to be diagnosed.

February is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and to help raise awareness for this disease the Women’s Cancer Foundation (Ovarian Cancer Institute) is holding its annual charity fun run/walk, ‘We Can Walk it Out’.

The walk is held at The Tan on Sunday February 16, and the Women’s Cancer Foundation plan to ‘turn the tan teal’ – the official colour for ovarian cancer – by encouraging everyone to walk or run in the colour teal.

In 2013, I participated in the Women’s Cancer Foundations We Can Walk It Out. It was great to hear so many stories of inspiration and support from other survivors and family members.  I will be participating again this year and look forward to seeing you all there!

Jane Lucas is an ambassador for the Women’s Cancer Foundation (Ovarian Cancer Institute). She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2011 at the age of 31. She has since had the cancer removed and is living a healthy and enjoyable life. Jane is an advocate for healthy living and ensures she lives a clean and sustainable life.  She also believes that awareness and early detection are key factors to decreasing the mortality rates of ovarian cancer.

Jane lives in Geelong North and works as a police officer. She enjoys yoga, spending time with her supportive family and friends and making the most out of life.

February is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. To help raise awareness for this insidious disease and fundraise for research initiatives, the Women’s Cancer Foundation (Ovarian Cancer Institute) is hosting its annual 4km walk or 4km and 8km run around the tan.

The aim is to ‘Turn the Tan Teal’ by asking that everyone wears teal, the international colour for ovarian cancer. This will show support and help raise awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms, as well as raise funds to find an ovarian cancer vaccine, continue the work of the Women’s Cancer Foundation and ultimately save lives.

There will be family friendly entertainment, a free BBQ, fruit and water to enjoy on the day. Everyone is welcome, even your pet pooch.

Teal balloons will be distributed so you can write your message of support for your loved ones and take them around the track with you as inspiration.

Everyone will be given a free teal t-shirt and there will be prizes for the best teal outfit.

To register, donate or support a fundraiser visit We Can Walk It Out. 

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