This post was originally written as a Facebook Post on 8th May, 2017. World Ovarian Cancer Day.
Today is World Ovarian Cancer Day, why should we care? Because all women are at risk of ovarian cancer. Six weeks ago I was diagnosed with a rare type of ovarian cancer. I had no idea.
Ovarian Cancer is not always a disease that affects women over 50 years of age or women who are postmenopausal. It’s easy to misinterpret Ovarian Cancer symptoms and it does not always present with a predisposition. It is a disease that is almost always treated with surgery, often with a total hysterectomy. No matter which way you look at it, Ovarian Cancer brings a sudden change of life out of a clear blue sky.
By all accounts I consider myself young, at 40 something, far from what was once considered middle aged. I try to keep fit, eat healthy, I don’t smoke, I often drink too much with my girlfriends, I definitely, most certainly had too much stress in my life, but was doing my best to manage my well-being, with yoga, breathing and mediation at home and I have a great positive outlook on life.
Despite my best efforts I had growing middle waist that no amount of F45 Training or burpes would budge and a constant feeling of puffiness and bloating. Sometimes I’d look in the mirror and swear I looked pregnant, I was finding it increasing difficult to cope the normal pressures of life. Not for a minute did I think or know these were symptoms of Ovarian Cancer, or more accurately, a slow growing ovarian tumour the size of a large grapefruit in my right ovary.
Ovarian Cancer awareness is important because it’s too easy for women to misinterpret symptoms, just like I did. I thought the reason I’d stopped having my period but had irregular heavy bleeds was because I may have been early pre-menopausal and my doctor concurred. I thought the sudden acute pain in my abdomen and right side at times of peak stress was because I’d pulled a muscle at the gym. I thought I was tired because of stress in my life. I thought I had indigestion because I was getting fat. I thought I was bloated all the time because I eat too much bread. My hormones where so out of whack, the anxiety I was experiencing lead me to believe I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
See how easy it was for me to interpret the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer to other things in my life. It’s actually a classic mistake women make when they have busy lives, it’s easy to overlook all manner of signs when something is wrong, or worse blame ourselves for the symptoms, hoping whatever it is will go away, not wanting to deal with issues about their own health. We focus on everyone else’s health before our own.
It wasn’t until I had an extremely painful, unbearable episode of acute pain in my abdomen, I knew something was seriously wrong. I felt very frightened and was rushed to hospital. I was being admitted to emergency, followed by surgery 2 days later to remove an Ovarian Torsion Mass (otherwise known as the sexy ‘adnexal torsion’), the tumour, ovary and fallopian tube was also removed.
It’s now a few weeks on and today is World Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day. I am recovering from a second surgery, performed not quite a week ago, a full hysterectomy, which means, my ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, the fatty tissue around my bladder and bowel where all remove for traces of cancer, together with a lymph node biopsy to which and I am waiting on another batch of pathology to determine any further treatment.
There are a few types of Ovarian Cancer, I was diagnosed with a rare kind, accounting for only 2% of all ovarian cancers, which is good news for me. This type of cancer has excellent prognosis outcomes in the first five years of diagnosis, after that the prognosis in all Ovarian Cancers declines around the 5 year mark to a 44% survival rate. There is no early screening for diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer, your regular pap smear does not test for this.
The current diagnosis for Ovarian Cancer is a bunch of tests, including physical examination, blood tests, including a CA-125 Blood Test, Ultrasounds, including Transvaginal, CT scans, biopsy and surgery. All of which are intrusive, time consuming and often painful. An early screening program for ovarian cancer would be without doubt, life saving. Ovarian Cancer research is a long way from producing such a test. In the meantime, every woman is different, and it’s up to us to be our own best health advocates, listen to our bodies, take action, even if we think we might be overreacting or misinterpreting the symptoms.
I ask you to take some time to get to know the symptoms and causes of Ovarian Cancer at this link www.ovariancancer.net.au and share it with all the women in your life. Thank you.
Much love and good health Amanda x
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