We use non-essential cookies (including anonymous analytics) to help us understand if our website is working well and to learn what content is most useful to visitors. We also use some cookies which are essential for our platform to work and help us to provide you with the best experience possible. You can accept or reject our non-essential cookies and change your mind at any time. To learn more, please read our cookies policy.

Update cookie preferences

Catherine: "My wish is that no one else dies from undiagnosed peritoneal cancer."

02 December 2020

Catherine Regan .png

Catherine lost her mum, Alison, to primary peritoneal cancer in 2012. Eight years on, she’s ready to share her story in the hope that she can help others recognise the signs of the disease. 

Throughout the summer of 2011, my mum Alison was being sick a lot. As a family we thought it could be an allergy, so we started cutting things out of our diets. Mum went to the doctors many times over the following months, but was told her sickness and bloating was nothing serious and may be due to stress.

It’s funny how much you put up with, or how quickly a symptom becomes normal once you’ve been told not to worry. It was Mum’s best friend who decided enough was enough. They had spent the day volunteering at our school fayre together, but after a day of looking at Mum’s swollen stomach and seeing her struggle, her best friend said, “I’m sick of this, we’re going to A+E and we’re not leaving until they work out what’s wrong”. Mum never left hospital, and died just a few days later. It was primary peritoneal cancer, something none of us had heard of until the day she died. Now, after doing my own research, I know it’s similar to ovarian cancer and is treated in the same way. 

Mum was just 53 when she died. I was 14 and my two siblings were younger. She was an intelligent woman, working as an editor for a university. She was an amazing mum to me and my two siblings, and was much-loved by our local community. Mum was a talented bell ringer and travelled around the UK and the world bell ringing – we have family friends all over, and she is missed by everyone. 

Now as a woman in my twenties, I understand how easy it is to get on with life when experiencing subtle symptoms such as bloating, sickness and abdominal pain. Especially when you’ve been told a number of times that nothing is wrong. 

"You know your body best, and if something is not right, persevere with your GP. Find a new one. Go to A+E. It could just save yours or a loved one’s life."


Mum’s birthday is on Christmas Eve. The day is always bittersweet, but we always make a special effort to meet up for a slice of cake and a toast in celebration of Mum.

Grief is a journey which is different for everyone, if you or someone you love could use some extra support please take a look at some of the grief networks on our dedicated page here.