A selfie of Grainne wearing a black top with short hair

Grainne’s story

Mum of two Grainne was diagnosed with stage 1A ovarian cancer after mentioning a pulled stomach muscle to her GP. She found Target Ovarian Cancer’s information and other women’s stories a useful way to understand her diagnosis and what to expect. 

As a mum of a ten-year-old boy and five-year-old girl, life is pretty busy! My usual day consists of getting the children up, dropping them off on my way to work, collecting them, cooking dinner, finishing homework, and then putting everyone to bed. Lights out!

So, when I felt a pain in my tummy as I lifted my daughter out of her high stool, I didn’t think too much of it.

The problem was it didn’t seem to go away. With a few painkillers it eased, but for three weeks I could still feel the discomfort.

Grainne selfie with blonde hair smiling toward the camera


The sleepless night that led to my diagnosis  

After a night where I couldn’t lie down to sleep because of the discomfort, I mentioned it to my GP who I was seeing for my cervical smear test. I thought I’d pulled a muscle, and so she examined me and although she couldn’t feel anything, she sent me for an ultrasound. As a self-confessed hypochondriac this put my mind at ease.  

That was August 2022, and by November I was in surgery being treated for a borderline ovarian cyst. The operation involved a total hysterectomy, and after was when I found out that the cyst was cancerous and I had stage 1 ovarian cancer.

I had been told time and time again by many medical professionals, ‘”thank god for that pulled muscle” because I had no obvious symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Looking back, it’s scary to think what could have been.  

After surgery I started on chemotherapy. The first session was tough, as I didn't know that the steroids gave you such a comedown, it was terrible. After that though, I knew what to expect. I had four sessions of chemotherapy in total and I returned to work two weeks after my last one.  

Looking back 

Ovarian cancer never crossed my mind as I had no obvious symptoms. Also, my CA125 was only slightly elevated. 

When I found out, I tried my best to avoid Google – which is the advice I would give to everyone else as not everything you find is useful. However, this is when I came across Target Ovarian Cancer. I read the charity’s information and learnt more about my stage of cancer, and what to expect.

I found Target Ovarian Cancer’s information about the disease really helpful!

It's almost a year since my surgery, and I feel great, but it does hit me looking back on the time from initial presentation to surgery to diagnosis. It was the not knowing and then the knowing that I find quite scary and daunting.

A selfie of Grainne wearing a black top with short hair

All sorts of thoughts were going through my head, and still do. I know that stage 1A has a lower risk of recurrence, but there is always the worry. Every time there’s a pain and ache I do panic, but then I have to remember I can't live life like that.  

I wanted to share my story as I spent time reading other women’s stories which gave me some reassurance, as the diagnosis came completely out of the blue.

I would also like to encourage women to see their GP if they do notice any unusual symptoms – never feel like you’re wasting their time. My GP was great. They want to help.  

If you’ve been affected by this story and would like to speak to a specialist nurse, you can call our dedicated support line on 020 7923 5475 or contact us: [email protected]. We're open from 9am until 5pm, Monday to Friday.

If reading this story has helped you, join the Ovarian Cancer Community to connect with more people affected by ovarian cancer: www.targetovariancancer.org.uk/onlinecommunity