Anita Leslau was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer when she was 72 years old, she shares her story.
"My symptoms included a swollen stomach and pains. I made a visit to my GP and asked him to refer me to a Gastroenterologist who sent me for a scan. The scan revealed that I had Stage 3 ovarian cancer.
I was horrified to be told I had ovarian cancer as it was all completely new to me. I received a lot of support from my Gastroenterologist compared to my GP, which helped with my fear. Fortunately for me, my desire to live and my love of life kept me positive during my treatment.
I do believe exercise helped me. It made me feel better. I couldn’t do running or skipping anymore when I became ill but I still worked out with weights. Sometimes you have to push yourself – it’s not easy. To live, you live with cancer.
I’m 80 years old and boxing. Ten minutes of boxing is like 45 minutes of jogging – it’s hard work but I like the challenge and I feel so much better after a really good work out when I’ve sweated a lot.
I would say three things to someone with ovarian cancer. Firstly, do indulge. Do things that make you feel good and don’t feel guilty about it. I think that’s really important. Secondly, make plans.
"From time to time I am fearful, but having cancer hasn’t affected my lifestyle at all"Anita Leslau
I’m probably doing more now than I did a few years ago before I was diagnosed.
I have one more ambition – to go walking in Cinque Terre in Italy. You must make plans, not just for tomorrow, but for the coming six months. I’m thinking about China and India too.
Thirdly, never give up. You must not let yourself be fobbed off. Women know when there’s something wrong with their body. If your GP doesn’t give you what you want, go to another doctor. Persevere – it’s your body, and you’re entitled.
I’ve learnt to laugh. My advice for those women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer is stay positive, exercise as much as you can and try to have a healthy diet and lifestyle.
I hope that in the future, early diagnosis can take place for women and a drug to cure this dreadful disease can be found, which kills so many women in this country. It’s such a shame that in treating ovarian cancer, we are behind all other European countries. I’m one of the lucky ones.
My cancer returned last year for the 4th time and is now referred to as Stage 4. I am tackling this disease with Avastin. I exercise, look and feel well and am enjoying my life! My aspirations and plans for the future remain the same as I continue to be optimistic and fight this disease.
People can help raise awareness of ovarian cancer in a number of ways. Get involved with various fundraising events, spread the word, involve doctors in spreading the word and teach doctors how to diagnose ovarian cancer.”
If you would like to share your story or become an ovarian cancer voice, please contact Tori@ovarian.org.uk