Karen Holden: "Cancer doesn't have to be such a scary word"

09 April 2017
Karen Holden | Ovarian cancer case study

Karen experienced ovarian cancer symptoms such as bloating, fullness, stomach pain and needing to wee more frequently. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2016, aged 49. She describes the signs of ovarian cancer, and her experience of chemotherapy and remission.

"I was experiencing some symptoms that are associated with ovarian cancer – I was bloated, I felt full after two mouthfuls of food, and I needed to urinate more often and lost complete bladder control.

I also experienced very painful heartburn and sharp pelvic pain in one side. The pain was unbearable and my side became visibly swollen.

I went to the doctor about my symptoms. She felt my stomach and side and sent an appointment out very quickly for an ultrasound.

The doctor at the hospital said I had a large cyst on my ovary and referred me for a CA125 blood test (the blood test for ovarian cancer). When I received the results, the doctor told me I had ovarian cancer.

The word cancer was all I heard, I was in total shock.

Treatment for ovarian cancer cysts

In November, I went to hospital in Aberdeen to get a full hysterectomy but when the surgeon opened me up I had two tumours growing on both my ovaries, which he removed.

I didn't get a full hysterectomy as I had lumps growing where there shouldn't be lumps and it would put my life in danger if they continued. I also had fluid that they got rid of. 

Karen Holden | Ovarian cancer symptoms

I was allowed to go home a couple of days later and I recovered well. In January I was due to start my chemotherapy but was unable to as I had fluid in my lung that needed to be drained.

Starting chemotherapy for ovarian cancer

I finally started my chemotherapy for ovarian cancer on the 9th of January. My first session was fine; I have been upbeat positive and get up in the morning with a smile on my face as I am so grateful for so many things.

Cancer doesn't have to be such a scary word. If you have a good sense of humour it can get you through so much and that's exactly what I have done.

I've recently finished my last chemotherapy session and will now hopefully be in remission.

I’m so grateful that I haven’t experienced particularly bad side effects with the chemotherapy and I can still do exercise and go out walking.

I hope that reading my story will help other women who are going through similar things."

Karen is an Ovarian Cancer Action Voice. Find out how you can join her and help raise awareness of ovarian cancer.