Published March 2021

My story begins in November 2015, when I was meeting my breast oncologist to discuss discharge from her service. After discussion and check up, I explained that I was still having issues with pain and irregular menstruation. Even though this had previously been investigated and put down to fibroids, my oncologist referred me to the gynaecology service at my local hospital.

Unfortunately due to a filing error, I slipped through the net and was actually seen 8 months later after a further meeting with my breast oncologist. I met with a surgeon, had bloods taken and a CT scan, and although they found 9 cm ovarian cyst and my CA125 was 90,  he was not overly concerned. He did recommend a full hysterectomy, due to my past history which was performed mid September 2016.

After the surgeon visited me post surgery, he explained that I had widespread endometriosis, so I hoped that this would be the cause. Unfortunately the cytology results showed high grade serous ovarian cancer in my ovaries, in one fallopian tube and cells in my abdominal washings (this is what haunted me). Within a month, I started on paclitaxel and carboplaitin, sadly they stopped the former after four cycles due to profound peripheral neuropathy. But I completed all six cycles of the latter mid March 2017. Although the side effects were difficult to deal with at times, I stayed focused and positive throughout.

That September I was married, it was a wondrous day and then I went on a beautiful honeymoon. Life was looking good for a while, after three monthly, then six monthly blood tests I was discharged from the service, but they explained that the door was still open. I had returned to work as an intensive care nurse, although I had to succumb to shorter shifts and going part-time, and my employer put in place several restrictions to support me.

Everything seemed well, I had changed to a vegan diet in February 2020, and I felt better than I had for a long time. However things began to change in October that year, when I began to suffer with acid reflux, nausea, feeling full and intermittent pain. As I’d been eating a lot of spicy food, I excluded this from my diet and made some other changes but nothing made a difference. I knew something wasn’t right with my body, so I had to bite the bullet and contact my oncology team.

They were amazing, within 14 days blood samples were taken and I’d had a CT scan. A few days following my scan, my oncology nurse rang me and I was told that the cancer had returned, and my CA125 was up to 450+. I always worried about those cells found in my abdomen, and knew that at some point the cancer would return. I am now treatable, but not curable. I am currently receiving paclitaxel and carboplatin, and have just had my third cycle. My CA125 had increased to 720+ before my first cycle, but has now rapidly reduced to 33, within normal range. I am so thankful for the quick action of my team, who even with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic started my treatment promptly. I am staying positive for the future, and taking each day as it comes.