Kirsty Chisholm was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer at just 29 years old. At the time, she and her husband were newly married and couldn’t wait to start their family. But they soon realised it wasn’t going to be that simple. Here's Kirsty's story...
After three hard years of being dismissed, being wrongly diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, and having had many unsuccessful fertility treatments, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was rushed into surgery on 13th December 2013. My left ovary was removed but we found out the cancer had spread, so I had to start chemotherapy in the New Year.
I was advised that I shouldn’t carry children as my tumour was hormone driven and it would increase the likelihood of the cancer returning. I sobbed but refused to give up hope, and went to a fertility clinic to have my remaining eggs frozen. My sister Karen offered to be my surrogate, an act of kindness that blew me away. I made her a big file with all the information, from treatments to legal issues and told her to think carefully with her partner as it was such a big decision. After three failed attempts and a fourth embryo that wasn’t viable, my sister fell pregnant with our fifth and final embryo – it was our last hope.
"Our son was born in December 2015. His name is Matthew, which means gift of God. Our Christmas wish came true."Kirsty Chisholm
My cancer journey didn’t end there. Whilst on maternity leave, I had further surgery to remove my omentum and have a full hysterectomy to minimise the risk of cancer returning. After that I felt a bit lost. I signed up for the Women V Cancer cycle challenge across Cambodia, and met other women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was an uplifting, heart-warming and necessary experience to know I wasn’t alone. It felt good to contribute to the important research that Ovarian Cancer Action funds – whether that’s for a screening tool that could have meant an earlier diagnosis for me and so many other women, or for a wider range of treatments.
Fast forward five years and Matthew is now at school. He’s our world and every day with him is a gift. This time of year always takes me back to the lows of my surgery but then the highs of my sister’s selfless act and Matthew’s arrival. I know I’m incredibly lucky to be here to share my story and, although Matthew will forever be our Christmas wish that came true, my wish for the future is that together we can make ovarian cancer a disease every woman survives.