Marie started experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer during lockdown...
I started to notice my symptoms around the time my daughter Mia came home from university in March 2020. The whole country had gone into lockdown and it was an intensely stressful time. I had constant bloating, was weeing more often, and my bowels were sluggish. I put the symptoms down to our changing diet – I was eating lots more bread and other carbs than usual now that Mia was home.
I was nervous about going to the GP because the NHS was so busy during the pandemic. I didn’t want to waste their time with something that I didn’t think was serious at the time. But the symptoms continued – especially the bloating, my tummy was constantly swollen. I knew I had to talk to a doctor.
Speaking to the GP
I called the GP and had an appointment where I explained my symptoms. It felt strange telling her that I’d been bloated for so long – as if she might not think it was serious, either. But she sent me for some tests, including the CA125 blood test. When the result came back, it was raised, and I was sent for further tests in hospital – an internal ultrasound, CT scan and others. I found out I had both ovarian and womb cancer in July.
The next six months were a blur of treatment – chemotherapy and surgery, and then in January 2021 I started taking new drug niraparib. I feel well now, although it was a really difficult year – I had to go to almost all of my appointments alone, but I’m glad I got through. The frontline NHS staff at both the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton were absolutely amazing and made a daunting situation so much easier for me. I’m looking forward to getting back to normal over the next few months.
Telling my story
I’m telling my story for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. I want everyone to know the symptoms, and especially that being constantly bloated can be a key symptom. Nobody I know would associate bloating with ovarian cancer, and in fact it never crossed my mind before I was diagnosed. I want people to take it seriously, and give your GP a call if you’re concerned. This pandemic can make us all nervous about going to the GP, but our health is so important. Nothing is too small or too silly to mention – just speak up if you’re worried.