This article contains content that some of you may find upsetting. This includes discussions of dealing with treatment and thoughts around dying.
Christine was all set to get married in June 2022. But the previous six months had been marred by weight loss, difficulty swallowing, sickness and urinary problems. And then two weeks before her wedding day, she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer aged 61. This is her story.
“In a strange way I was glad to get a diagnosis. It explained why I felt so bad, had no energy, feeling sick, hardly eating anything and a constant pain in my stomach.
I’d been losing weight since January. I thought it was just due to exercise and low-calorie meals, but I was having difficulty swallowing. I’d then developed urinary symptoms, feeling like I was desperate to go but only passing small amounts and was prescribed antibiotics.
Friends and family were telling me I looked so well, but I felt exhausted at the time.Christine
I continued to lose weight and saw my GP again. I was fast tracked for gastroscopy (due to a previous surgery) and while that came back normal, the consultant referred me for a CT scan and a biopsy, and that’s where it showed stage 4 ovarian cancer that had spread to several areas.
My first thought was, I’m going to die. I gave myself about six months. Not just a guess, I was a nurse and midwife for 40 years; an educated guess.Christine
On reading my CT scan, I thought I might only be able to have palliative care, it sounded so bad. But it made me determined that our wedding would be a great party.
I was worried about how I would get through the day, I had so little energy. We had to have chairs so I could sit through the service. But I’d been prescribed anti-sickness tablets and steroids which helped me and the wedding day was fabulous. In fact, I was dancing almost up to midnight when my energy just ran out.
Chemotherapy and being able to look forward
I kept losing weight. I’d lost 7kg between my first weight check in and having my first chemo, so the dose wasn’t right. I developed a post chemo infection and spent a week at the Christie hospital. I felt so sick, wasn’t eating and I struggled to walk without assistance. Thankfully, once the dose was adjusted, I began coping better with each cycle.
I still had problems eating and my weight had dropped to 50kg. It’s only been since September 2022 that I began eating sufficiently again to stop losing weight.
I feel very well now, better than this time last year and am getting my energy back. I’ve had two CT scans so far to see how I’ve responded to chemo, and they have both been positive, although they still show extensive disease and I’ve been told surgery is not appropriate.
I know it’s likely I’ll have recurrence at some point, but new treatments and trials are possible. My main hope is a screening programme is set up for ovarian cancer (like breast cancer screening) and that research makes early detection and new treatments, a possibility."