Diane was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 1998 and in 2009 was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now 21 years after her cancer journey began she is fit and well. She shares her story.
“The bloating happened so suddenly, my tummy just blew up. One moment I could do up my skirt and the next I was struggling to get it over my tummy. On the advice of my colleague I went to see my GP, who told me that I had simply put weight on. However, I knew this couldn’t be the case. At the time I was a skinny 46 year old and was very active, working full time as manager at a radio station and a mother to two young men.
At my insistence I was sent to see a general specialist, who also said there was nothing wrong with me. I requested a CT scan, only for the same specialist to apologise for his mistake and tell me that I had stage IV ovarian cancer and only had about six weeks to live. He told me there was nothing that could be done. However, the next day I got a second opinion from Dr. Peter Wilkinson who brought in a specialist surgeon, Mr Richard Slade. I had extensive debulking surgery, removing everything they could and I was told afterwards they had taken out a three year growth! Three weeks later I started chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy isn’t pleasant but it definitely saved my life. I found losing my long, thick hair was the most distressing part. I remember telling the oncologist how upset I was that my hair was growing back curly and I wanted it straight. He just looked at me over his glasses in disbelief, as if that was all I was bothered about! I never ever once through the whole 21 years of illness thought I was going to die. I knew I would be OK and I think that positive thinking really got me through.
A genetic test also revealed that I had the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which I’d never heard of before but which increases your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
In 2009, over ten years after my initial ovarian cancer diagnosis, I was diagnosed with cancer again; this time stage 3 breast cancer. I had chemotherapy again then had bi-lateral mastectomy. Again the worst part for me was losing my hair!
It’s now been 21 years since my cancer journey began and I’m fit and well. I have seen my two sons get married and have my supreme delights - six wonderful grandchildren! My message is don’t ever give up and always seek a second opinion. After all, I was given a 2% survival rate!
And P.S… my hair is glorious again!"