Although I had a long history of gynaecological problems, my diagnosis of ovarian cancer at age 36 was a complete surprise.
During an emergency operation to fix a twisted ovary, the doctors took a biopsy from an ovarian cyst. Five days later I got a call to say I had ovarian cancer.
I had surgery to remove my remaining ovary, along with the uterus and some lymph nodes. Luckily the cancer was found early and it hadn’t spread outside the ovary.
As they found a clustering of cells in my abdomen during the surgery, the medical oncologist recommended I have a course of chemotherapy to help prevent the cancer coming back.
Even though I was young and fit, I found the chemotherapy very difficult. I had treatment weekly for 16 weeks and had a lot of side effects, including fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea and constipation, numbness in the hands and feet, and hair loss. I also had an adverse reaction to the first drug, which meant I had to take medicines before each infusion to try to prevent this.
Although some people bounce right back, once treatment was over I questioned my values and reasons for being here. Attending support groups and seeing an oncology psychologist really helped me come to grips with the experience of having had ovarian cancer, and my emotions are now in a much better place.
My body also needed time to recover after treatment. Although I’m still dealing with lymphoedema and fatigue, I’m happy to be getting back to work and my usual activities.
I now realise how important it is to build a relationship with my health care professionals and to actively look after my health.