June is currently undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer after a difficult and frustrating path to diagnosis. She reflects on the importance of having the right medical team and how she finds positivity even in the face of huge challenges.
"I had recently undergone surgery for urethral diverticulum, a condition I had lived with for 56 years undiagnosed. Both before and after my surgery, I had been unwell with gynaecological symptoms. I was convinced I had ovarian cancer. Try as I did to convince my five former GPs that I had this condition, I was continually told I was depressed or difficult, offered antidepressants — even during a long period of constant infection — though was never once referred to Gynaecology.
I repeatedly asked for a CA125 blood test and when I was finally tested, I had a very high reading of 5600. Normal is 1-35. This proved a likelihood of ovarian cancer and things really sprang into action. I feel lucky to have been to the Beatson Cancer Hospital, where I've been given world-class care and support ever since. I've also re-registered with a new GP practice, where both doctors and the practice nurse are caring, supportive and completely on the ball; a welcome contrast from my previous experience. Both medical centres have helped restore my faith in the NHS and right now I'm looking forward to a brighter future, despite having been on a four-year rollercoaster ride.
"Positivity and belief in your team is paramount"June Toner
I'm currently on my seventh course of chemotherapy, this time with an added immunotherapy drug. I truly believe this combination will set me on the road to recovery or at least remission. There have been some real peaks and troughs along the way, but in four years of treatment, major abdominal surgery, blood transfusions, marrow tests, rising and falling CA125 blood marker results etc., I've never once lost faith that things will turn around for me. Positivity and belief in your team is paramount. Several elements, however, combine to keep us going as long as possible: a great medical team (which I have); conventional medicine; good diet; healthy, happy frame of mind and absolute positivity; good fresh air... slow walks in a park if you can manage or any other light exercise until you’re stronger to do more and most importantly, the love and support from family and friends, which I have in abundance!
The last nine months for me have been the most precarious so far, which led me to start a new, more difficult chemo called Cisplatin. During five infusions of this treatment, my blood marker rose significantly, so it was discontinued and replaced by an immunotherapy drug. After six infusions the blood marker reached a horrifying level. This drug was also discontinued and I was put on a chemo tablet for 28 days, which showed a slight improvement. Throughout this time, I kept calm, refusing to lose faith, despite other negative changes occurring in my abdomen such as ascites build-up and bloating.
Friday 24 January, I had my second of eighteen infusions of weekly Taxol together with immunotherapy. Already I've had a substantial drop in my blood marker count, which has given me a huge boost. I have Dr Glasspool and her entire team at the Beatson, along with my GPs and practice nurse to thank for their unwavering care, compassion and support. Together their expertise is extending lives every single day. In addition, oncological research teams are committed to and succeeding in revolutionising cancer treatments. That is why continued cancer research is so important. I think myself lucky and give thanks every day for still being able to wake up each morning and enjoy this beautiful life!"
We bring together and fund the work of the world’s leading ovarian cancer researchers, the people whose collaborative efforts will turn ovarian cancer into a disease that can be diagnosed early, treated kindly, and cured for good. Click here to help fund our research.