Karen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged 19. Now 30 years after her diagnosis, she shares her story.
"In November 1989 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was a complete bolt from the blue.
A couple of weeks before I was taken into hospital, I’d had a horrendous pain shooting up my back. The doctors firstly diagnosed sciatica but I was also extremely bloated and having a great deal of discomfort and pain. My mum kept asking if I was pregnant but I was still having regular periods. When I eventually went back to the doctor he felt a lump and sent me straight to the hospital.
After numerous tests and scans they said I had a cyst on my ovary which needed to be operated on. The next day I had my operation, having never been in hospital for something as major as this before. A few days after the operation the gynaecologist asked to speak to my mum and myself. She then told us the horrible news that as soon as she opened me up, she knew I had ovarian cancer. She removed an ovary as well as one of my fallopian tubes. She told me if I’d been ten years older she would have performed a hysterectomy there and then.
They gave me a couple of weeks to recover from my operation and then I had to go to The Christie Hospital (a specialist cancer treatment centre) for six months every third week, staying in for a week for a round of chemotherapy. Losing my hair was the worst possible thing that could have happened to me at this time. I was also very sick, developed ulcers and had a severe reaction to an anti-sickness drug. Getting infections also meant I had to have blood transfusions.
"In November this year it will be 30 years since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer"Karen Lamont
I could not have got though this without the help of my family and especially my wonderful boyfriend, who I had only been with for ten months at the time I was diagnosed. That boyfriend is now my husband of 27 years.
After my treatment the doctors weren’t sure whether I would be able to have children, so when I got pregnant in February 1994, we couldn’t believe it. We went on to have three beautiful girls. One daughter who is 24 and twin daughters who are 21.
Growing up my daughters have always known about my cancer and a few years ago I was tested to see if I carry a genetic mutation. Thankfully the results came back negative. But I know that this doesn’t mean that they can’t get cancer, something which is always at the back of my mind because I would hate for my daughters to have to go through what I went through.
In November this year it will be 30 years since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Early diagnosis is the key. I think I was lucky because I had horrendous pain, which is relatively unusual. Being extremely positive throughout my treatment helped me tremendously, even at my worst times and the support I received was definitely a big factor in helping me get through.
I had to go for check-ups every three months for first year, then every six months for them next five. After that it was just yearly. Eventually in 2010 I was officially discharged from The Christie. It was a fantastic feeling knowing I had done it."