Published in June 2020

In February 1996 I attended my GP as I had been experiencing some abdominal bloating, but nothing was giving me pain or any other discomfort.

My GP sent me straight to our local hospital for an ultrasound scan.  The doctor I saw at the hospital diagnosed me with an ovarian cyst and told me to see my own doctor again in a couple of days. He also said not to be surprised if I was taken into hospital very soon.

When I saw my own GP again, he confirmed that I did have an ovarian cyst and said that at my age (49 years old) it was almost certain that it would not be benign, so I was aware from the start that this was serious. He also said he wanted me to attend a hospital in Edinburgh and not my local hospital, as the best man for the job was at this hospital in Edinburgh.

I saw the consultant within a couple of weeks and he confirmed that I needed a hysterectomy which would include having part of my bowel taken away as the tumour was on my left side.

I had my operation on 9 March, which was successful, plus I was to have chemotherapy as a precaution to make certain all the cancer cells were removed from my system.

I began six treatments of chemo in April, which were meant to be every three weeks but from the start the time between cycles was always longer than three weeks. My GP said this was a good sign, as it meant the treatment was working, although it meant that it would take longer to get through all six. They ended in October.

As with most patients I found the side effects hard to deal with, but as it was hopefully going to help save my life I needed to try and deal with it. The hardest part for me was the sickness as this was only the second time in my life that I’d been sick, plus I had to stay in hospital for 24 hours each time as chemo affected my kidneys. The treatment had to be changed for the last two cycles because of my kidneys and I was able to have them in the day room which was easier to cope with. Fortunately, I didn’t lose my hair although it did get a lot thinner.

My family and friends were a great support and always there to help when needed. I also tried to have little treats of some kind: a few days away with the family and a Tina Turner Concert at the home of Scottish Rugby Murrayfield. I was determined to go so made sure my treatment fitted with these. Camping weekends with two other families was another treat, which helped a lot to keep life as normal as possible.

As I already said, the sickness for me was the hardest part; on one occasion during the night I also had the worst headache ever, was crying with the pain. Not surprisingly it turned out to be stress.

I continued to have check-ups for eight years after, and have had no recurrence of the cancer.

I do believe that my GP saved my life (especially after I’ve read some of the stories online) as he acted immediately in sending me to hospital, especially as I had no symptoms to speak of only the slight bloating. He was also a great help during my treatment and phoned me regularly to check how I was doing. Had it not been for him I would not be here today with my family. At the time my son was 21 and daughter was 10 years old; I now have two wonderful grandsons, and my husband and I have just celebrated our golden wedding anniversary.