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"I was lucky my cancer was caught early but we desperately need to develop a screening tool"

04 May 2019

Alex Chisholm World Ovarian Cancer Day

Alex was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2016 aged 39. she shares her story and explains why she will be helping to hand out 33,000 roses on World Ovarian Cancer Day to raise awareness.

I was lucky. My cancer was caught early in stage 1c after having three cysts removed, but I then had to undergo a radical hysterectomy in order to save my life. Thankfully no evidence of the cancer remained after my operation – I was fortunate to avoid chemotherapy.

I know only too well that treatment options for ovarian cancer patients are really limited and that needs to change. The knock-on effects of surgery and chemotherapy can be tough and life-long. It took me a good while to recover from my treatment and I can no longer have biological children. With more and better treatment options available, things could have been different. 

Early detection is our best means of improving survival rates, but unfortunately there is currently no way to screen for ovarian cancer and 82% of women in the UK are unable to name all four symptoms of the disease. This needs to change now.

If a woman’s cancer is caught in stage 1, she will have a 90% chance of survival, but if she is diagnosed at stage 4, her chance of survival decreases to just 4%. We desperately need to improve awareness as well as develop personalised treatments and a screening tool to improve survival. 

8th May is World Ovarian Cancer Day and this year Ovarian Cancer Action is making the day bigger and better than ever. It is hoped that 2 million women across the UK will be reached with symptom information through the campaign.

You’ll also see me, along with 150 other volunteers across UK cities, handing out white roses with symptoms cards attached. We will give out 33,000 roses to represent the number of British women currently living with the disease and as a symbol of hope for a world without ovarian cancer.

This is so important because arming women with the knowledge they need to spot the signs of ovarian cancer will improve early detection. While treatment options are limited and Ovarian Cancer Action’s scientists continue to develop the world’s first ovarian cancer screening tool, symptom awareness will ensure more women can catch their cancer earlier. 

But while raising awareness of the symptoms will make a difference, together we must do more so that if a woman is diagnosed with the disease, she’s able to have the best possible future.

It’s only through funding research that we can work towards a world without ovarian cancer.

Will you help improve survival rates for women like me this World Ovarian Cancer Day? Donate now to fund research that will save lives.