In this deeply personal account, Alexandria shares her journey from surviving ovarian cancer to working at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre. It is a story of resilience and determination. Through her own experience, she talks about the invaluable role that donations play in funding life-saving research.
In the face of adversity, the human spirit has an incredible capacity to rise above challenges, to find strength in the darkest of moments. I want to share my personal journey, from surviving ovarian cancer to becoming a researcher at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre.
When my symptoms started I was approaching my final year of university. I was only 20 years old.
The cramps were unbearable, but the healthcare professionals I spoke to brushed it off. It was frustrating, to say the least. Deep down, I knew this wasn’t normal for me, so I persisted, and finally, they discovered a massive cyst on my right ovary.
That’s when the reality hit — after the surgery to remove the cyst, I was told I had ovarian cancer.
It was scary, especially when they suggested an emergency hysterectomy. I took a step back, explored my options, and decided to have my right ovary removed for now, with chemotherapy and follow-ups to monitor my progress.
I’m sure, looking back, this shocked the doctors. But in that moment, I was resolute. I wanted to finish my education and put this chapter behind me as quickly as I could.
Through my own personal battle, I learnt first-hand how the lack of information and guidance affects ovarian cancer patients. I also know how important it was for me to have been diagnosed early. It probably saved my life.
I knew we needed change, and we needed it fast.
So, armed with a unique patient perspective and of experience in laboratory research, I eventually embarked on a PhD program focused on ovarian cancer research. I seized the opportunity to join the prestigious Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre in London, working under the guidance of Professor Iain McNeish.
At the Centre, we’re focused on research that can transform the lives of women with ovarian cancer — not just prevention and detection, but also treatment.
Personally, I’m working on a device that allows us to test a combination of treatments on tissue samples.
We’re hoping to use this research to offer a more personalised treatment for women with ovarian cancer, because we know that every woman is different, and that this type of cancer is extremely complex.
But here’s the thing, ovarian cancer research has been historically underfunded, and quality research is urgently needed
but it comes at a cost — everything from lab coats to microscopes cost a lot. It’s an investment worth making though, because it means we can bring better opportunities to those battling ovarian cancer.
This chronic underfunding is one of the
reasons why last March, I signed up to
Walk in Her Name, an event organised
by Ovarian Cancer Action during Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. I decided to walk 100km in my local area to raise funds and spread awareness about this disease.
I can tell you it was worth every step, every donation, and every ounce of support. Thousands of people like me across the UK walked with a shared purpose, driven by a collective determination to make a positive impact in the fight against ovarian cancer. I am so grateful to everyone who donated to my efforts and believed in the cause.
Alexandria’s unwavering determination and commitment to making a difference in the lives of women affected by ovarian cancer is an inspiration to us all. Sign up to be the first to hear about next year's Walk in Her Name.