Mum-of-three Angela was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003 at the age of 46.
Having a positive outlook has helped me to keep going since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was leading an active life, so when I started to feel lethargic to the point of exhaustion, my stomach was bloated and going to the toilet was a nightmare, I went to my GP. I was advised to see a dietitian but my bloods were okay and my diet was healthy so I asked to see a specialist instead.
Soon I was taking 48 pain killers a week to deal with the stomach pain, so when I was offered a consultant’s appointment in three months’ time, I knew I couldn’t wait that long. I scheduled a private appointment and was diagnosed with a large tumour over both ovaries. I had been expecting to be told to eat more prunes!
"My first thought was how to tell my three children"Angela Walker
My first thought was how to tell my three children. In the end, Hugh took mum into the front room, and I herded the kids into the kitchen. Until then I hadn’t shed a tear, but with them, I broke down with all four of us hugging and crying.
The cancer had spread to my bowel, diaphragm and liver, so I had to have surgery and then seven sessions of chemotherapy. Chemo is caustic and I remember the nurse administering the liquid wore thick black gloves up to her armpits. I'll never forget thinking yikes - can this be going into my veins?!
I’m still here with a smile on my face to tell the tale. My mother was a marvel and stepped into my shoes whenever needed. My family and friends never failed to overwhelm with their love, care, cards, flowers, phone calls, shepherd’s pie and concern. My treatment was incredible tough but they got me through it.
Keeping fit helps me physically and mentally and helping others with the disease is remarkably therapeutic. I love volunteering my time in different ways. I used to volunteer at a local hospice and more recently at a food redistribution charity tackling food waste and hunger. Ovarian Cancer Action has been a lifeline, too. Feeling isolated with this disease is crippling but the charity has allowed me to feel part of a group and knowing there is always someone there to talk to is such a comfort.
Four years later, I had a recurrence. Again, I underwent chemotherapy. I was then told the cancer would most probably return every one-to-two years. I do have that fact in the back of my mind. I feel incredible lucky to be going 14 years after my last chemotherapy session. But I do know first-hand that we need better detection tools to diagnose ovarian cancer sooner, and more effective treatments to kick cancer for good. Funding research will deliver the progress we need and give hope to women like me in the future.