Helen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, aged 47. She's now a proud grandmother and in her words 'I know how lucky I am to still be here'. This is her story.
"Unfortunately my diagnosis wasn't quick, despite me visiting my GP for over 18 months with a bloated, painful stomach; weight loss; and a need to use the loo more frequently.
I was continually told that it was just the menopause. However, in October 2007 I returned once again with awful pain originating on my right side going right down my leg. Upon my insistence, I was sent for a scan. Things then moved quickly and I was given the news that every women dreads; I had ovarian cancer. They told me they’d discovered a tumour the size of a grapefruit in my right ovary and a major operation and chemotherapy followed.
With my son just starting his first term away at university and my daughter only 14 years old I hoped and prayed to be given the chance for at least another ten years to see them both settled.
My family, especially my husband Derek, were a tremendous support as were all the staff at the Clatterbridge Oncology Unit — even the car park attendant always had a cheery wave for you each visit."
Marking 10 years with a Great walk
"When I was receiving my treatment, I read an inspiring article about a group of women who walked the Great Wall of China in aid of Ovarian Cancer Action and I remember thinking — if I do make it through this I want to do something like that to give hope to other women who are in the same situation.
October 2017, 10 years on from my diagnosis, I walked the Great Wall of
China as part of the Ovarian Cancer Action team!
Seeing my son get married and becoming a grandmother
It is thanks to the research into this disease that charities such as Ovarian Cancer Action fund that I was one of the fortunate women who has survived. Standing proudly next to my son when he got married made me even more determined than ever to tackle this challenge and raise as much money as I can for further research, so more women can survive and live life to the full.
I am now a proud grandmother and I know how lucky I am to still be here, to tell the tale, as I know it could have been a very different
outcome. My advice to anyone in a similar situation would be to insist on
a second opinion as you have lived in your body all your life so you know when
things aren't right!"
Women like Helen are an inspiration to us, bucking the trend to show that ovarian cancer can be and is a survivable disease for many. But it shouldn't be down to luck. With your help we can change the odds for women and make ovarian cancer a survivable disease for all women.