Florence was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2010 and has undergone several rounds of grueling chemotherapy and extensive surgery over the past eight years. She reflects on the moments that have been stolen from her, as well as the importance of finding joy, even in the hardest times.
“What has been stolen from me is providing my children with a stable and stress free childhood, and this causes me immense pain. They were 11 and 15 when I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and have seen me have chemotherapy four times, two big surgeries, take Avastin for two-and-a-quarter years, and I have now been on Olaparib for a year. You can deal with your own pain, but to see your children suffer is unbearable.
I was diagnosed in 2010 after having been ill for about two years; each trip to the Doctor and each symptom being treated on a separate basis. Fortunately GPs are better educated today, and this is one of the reasons I do awareness presentations- getting as many women and healthcare professionals to be aware of the symptoms for ovarian cancer. Early diagnosis saves lives. Fewer stolen moments.
I am also BRCA2 positive. This brings challenges for my children, deciding when to be tested, (they have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene too), and then deciding what they do with that information.
I have had so many stolen moments, one being my daughter's prom, where rather than being at home sharing the fun of getting her ready I was in hospital recovering from my first surgery. Devastating for us both. I was told I had between 12 to 18 months. It is now eight years on, but I am aware that the treatments are running out for me.
The only way to survive this brutal journey is to be positive. Love what you do, who you share your time with, and be grateful. But the fall-out for others is hard. I am extremely grateful to my friends and family who have supported me, carried me when I thought I couldn't go on, listened to me, loved me.
I try to give back by volunteering for Ovarian Cancer Action. I do a project a year, ranging from a diary, an art exhibition and having a poetry book published. I've raised £40,000 for the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, which is at Hammersmith Hospital where I am being treated.
I love my life, hard as it is sometimes, and want it to go on for as long as possible, and I am so grateful for the health professionals that enable this.”
Almost two decades are stolen from a woman who dies of ovarian cancer in the UK. A screening tool would change this. Help us raise £1million to protect future generations.