Chris Treanor

05 April 2017
Chris Treanor

Chris first experienced symptoms of ovarian cancer in October 2007 aged 51. She credits the vigilance of her GP for her early diagnosis.

"I was on holiday and started to feel a bit strange. I was very tired and went back to my room most mornings for a rest until lunchtime.

On my return, I attended my routine cancer smear. The doctor thought I had a polyp and made a referral to my GP, who in turn referred me to the gynaecological department in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

In February 2008 I had an internal scan that showed a polyp, which was to be removed with surgery. By this time, I was having bad discharge on a daily basis.

I attended my GP who took swabs for analysis but nothing untoward was found.

In March, I was admitted to have the operation to remove the polyp. I did not find out until after my cancer diagnosis in June that there had not actually been a polyp.

The gynaecologist came to see me to say the operation went well. I asked about the constant discharge and she blamed it on the menopause. I explained that I had gone through the menopause in my late 40s but she did not take this seriously.

Between March and June 2008 my symptoms became worse. I was having problems with my bowels, felt full very easily after meals, I had pain during intercourse and really bad pain in the right side of my abdomen, which was also sore to touch. It was also painful to sit down.

The discharge became really bad and I was at my GP at least once or twice every week. She was constantly taking more swabs and blood tests, which I later realised were for CA125 markers.

I was having problems with my bowels, felt full very easily after meals, I had pain during intercourse and really bad pain in the right side of my abdomen, which was also sore to touch. It was also painful to sit down.

Chris Treanor

She was becoming increasingly concerned and made contact with the gynaecologist in Ninewells Hospital on several occasions. Unfortunately, her concerns were not taken seriously. My symptoms became so bad towards the end of May that she sent me to the gynaecological ward with a letter explaining her concerns.

I was given an internal (which was agony) and another ultrasound. I was admitted to the ward where the gynaecologist asked how many sexual partners I had had. I explained that I had been married for 35 years and had not had any other partners.

Without further investigation, she diagnosed an abscess in the ovary and I was given intravenous antibiotics for 24 hours and discharged the next day with four different types of antibiotics to take daily.

By 12 June I had never felt so ill in my whole life. My husband called my GP who asked me to come in to the surgery straight away. She prescribed something for the thrush and sent me back to the gynaecological ward.

Fortunately, the gynaecologist I was under was on holiday. I saw a gentleman doctor who listened carefully to my story and then advised that I should have an exploratory operation. I was so happy that someone in the hospital was finally taking me seriously.

On Friday 13 June I was taken to theatre and woke up to be told I'd had a hysterectomy and my omentum had been removed. I was not too upset by this as I'd already gone through the menopause. When my husband came up to the ward, the surgeon broke the news that I had a very rare form of cancer in my fallopian tube, which had also backed into the ovary. Fortunately, a CAT scan showed that the cancer had not spread.

Six weeks after my operation I had six sessions of chemotherapy at three-week intervals to 'mop up' any cancerous cells which may have been in my bloodstream. I lost all of my body hair and had to wear a wig for about 8 months. I was ill for two weeks after each chemo and tried to have a normal life for a week before my next treatment.  

I found out after my operation that a large mass had been found in the results of my second ultrasound.

When I was admitted for the operation, I was asked lots of questions including whether I had lost weight. Maybe if I'd been asked this when I was admitted in May for the intravenous antibiotics, it would have rung some alarm bells as I had in fact lost about half a stone.  

I consider myself to be very fortunate that my cancer was caught in time and I have my GP to thank for that. I recently had my 60th birthday and am so grateful to be alive."

Read more about the symptoms of ovarian cancer