In a weird way, I think the universe knew I had cancer before I did. A year prior to my diagnosis my dear grandmother had passed away and going through her belongings I felt a strong connection to her beautiful neck scarves which she always wore. Out of all her possessions, that was all I wanted – little did I know that just a year later those scarfs were the foundation of my chemo wardrobe.
At only 27 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Ovarian Cancer, I had no family history and barely, if any, vague symptoms. Whilst I was feeling full a little quicker and constantly needing to go to the bathroom, nothing screamed ‘cancer!’.
It all happened so fast, I was working in mental health at the time and a patient had asked if I was pregnant. From there, I noticed some abdominal bloating/pain, so I decided to go see my GP who referred me for a scan. The scan showed a massive mass in abdomen and I just knew it was going to be cancer.
When you hear the words cancer you automatically think death – you think someone has just signed your death warrant. Confronted and confused the experience was made even more traumatic by an oncologist who asked me to sign a waiver saying I was prepared to have any reproductive body parts taken away during surgery.
In the end, I spent 21 gruelling days in the chemo chair and was treated with three different drugs. I had keyhole surgery and I lost one fallopian tube and one ovary, but fortunately kept my uterus. Whilst the path to fertility remains unclear, I now show no trace of the deadly disease and finished my last round of chemo in late 2018.
Cancer shattered me into all these little pieces, I was broken and bruised, devasted and disheartened. But ultimately, from every crack a new me grew and today I am stronger, fiercer and more resilient.
For a period of time post illness, I bordered on depressed, I couldn’t compute that I had almost died and really struggled to comprehend what I had been through.
I was also struggling with chemo weight gain, a side effect no one ever mentioned, and it took me 10 long months to finally shift the weight.
My message to other young women is you need to be your own health advocate and to do that you need to know your own body. You can read as many symptoms as you like but they are not the same for everybody. Take the time to get to know your own body and if something doesn’t feel right know that it probably isn’t.
I am living proof that breast cancer and ovarian cancer do not just affect old people.
If I can save another young woman from walking in to the Doctor’s Surgery thinking she has a gluten intolerance and being told she has cancer then all this will have purpose.
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