Keen cyclist Dominique was teaching English in Myanmar when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Now in remission, she explains why it has been so important to her to get back in the saddle.
"In March of last year I was told I probably had ovarian cancer. There were two doctors present at the meeting and they both became slightly unnerved, talking quickly, saying I had to go to Thailand for further tests. I knew that for an ordinary person in Myanmar this would be a death sentence.
I knew that for me, as someone who was exceedingly lucky to have been born in the UK, I would be treated, and if I could be treated then I might not die. I did not know then what I know now: that ovarian cancer kills far more women than those who survive it.
"It seems that everyone knows how to check for breast cancer but no one can tell you the symptoms of ovarian cancer. "Dominique Hall
The thing that happens with cancer, (or any serious disease), is that you are immediately in the hands of science and luck, and nothing you do can alter your prognosis. I am lucky in that after a full hysterectomy and six rounds of chemo I am officially in remission. However, as anyone with ovarian cancer will probably not tell you, it comes back in 80% of cases.
So what can I actually do to change the disastrous statistics for surviving ovarian cancer in the UK? I can raise money for Ovarian Cancer Action to fund further research. I can also raise awareness. It seems that everyone knows how to check for breast cancer but no one can tell you the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
In the immediate aftermath of my hysterectomy I could barely walk and once I had recovered from that I started chemotherapy. For the first few months I actually had very few side effects, and was out cycling two or three times a week, to try and get some fitness back. However, after a couple of months of steroids and chemo I could barely walk upstairs. So one of the first things I wanted to do once I was officially in remission was to get fit again.
I started to cycle again, and now I am up to twenty-two miles. In July I will cycle approximately 100 km in one day from Prachuap to Hua Hin in Thailand, to raise money for Ovarian Action. I am cycling for myself, I am cycling to raise money and I am cycling to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. And I am doing it now, because I simply don’t know when it will be too late. Perhaps, if I am incredibly lucky, not for many years yet."
Fancy taking on your own cycling challenge? Applications for Women V Cancer Ride the Night 2020 are now open!