Louise experienced symptoms but was initially misdiagnosed by her doctor. Eventually, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, aged 42.
After undergoing a hysterectomy, she was told she was cancer free. But soon after, tragically the cancer returned and Louise passed away.
Louise’s Mum, Liz, shares her daughter’s story. She talks about the symptoms she experienced and highlights the injustice her loved one faced.
“Louise was a loving daughter and my best friend. She was kind, helpful and always smiling. She was a yoga teacher.
In July 2019, she had just finished teaching her yoga class and was doubled up in agony with her stomach and couldn’t drive home. She had been experiencing abdominal pain for a while but was in her perimenopause and attributed her symptoms to this.
A friend rushed her to the GP - but they were rather unsympathetic. The GP gave her a prescription of Buscopan, a pain-relief medication for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). She was told to call an ambulance if her symptoms persisted.
“For six months before her diagnosis, Louise experienced symptoms like bloating and ongoing painful but regular periods”Liz
Louise continued throwing up and was in a lot of pain. We called an ambulance and a blood test and scan proved our worst fear - there was a mass on one of her ovaries.
After numerous scans and tests, she needed emergency surgery - but even then there was a lengthy waiting time. There was much confusion about whether she had cancer or not, and so it wasn’t until October 2019 that she finally had her operation. They removed the mass through a full hysterectomy and she ended up having a colonoscopy too, as at the time they feared the cancer had spread to her bowel.
“Okay, so it’s cancer! Came back from recovery on Monday to be told the news – and I have a stoma bag to try and deal with” - these were the words that Louise wrote in her diary that week, having been diagnosed with stage 1C2 mixed clear cell, endometrioid, ovarian cancer.
After her surgery, we were reassured by the surgeon and oncologist that she was now cancer free and to ‘go live your life!’. They felt chemotherapy would be less effective and not necessarily have an effect on the clear cell cancer cells - had any escaped. She was given a good prognosis because of her age, although there was always a risk of recurrence in the future.
Taking a turn for the worst
Louise appeared to be recovering well, back doing some yoga and walking her newly adopted dog. But in February 2020, she had a few unexplained falls then the feeling something wasn’t quite right. She kept feeling like she needed to pee - even though she had her stoma bag.
She experienced other symptoms like a small but painful bruise on her back, which grew into a lump.
I remember Louise had told me she had dreamed she was riddled with cancer. Sadly that was true - it had spread with a vengeance to her bowel, liver, breast, brain and returned to her pelvic cavity.
She underwent more treatment - a chemotherapy session as a last resort and was scheduled for more plus radiotherapy. However, during that time, she became very ill to the point where she was screaming in agony.
By the end of March, Louise had a palliative care package in place. She never lost her sense of humour and managed to keep smiling throughout. But I was truly shocked that she had lost the power in the right side of her body and could no longer stand up. Her speech gradually became impossible, which really frustrated her as she was losing her ability to communicate.
We were told she had days to live.
At 5:31am on 7 April 2020, less than a year since she had been diagnosed, our dearest Louise lost her battle with ovarian cancer.
“She had a smile that lit up a room - everyone who knew her said she was an inspiration”Liz
She had no children but left behind her faithful horse and a rescue dog which she had adopted to help her recover from surgery. Aside from being a yoga teacher, she held an undergraduate degree in literature and a masters in TV fiction writing.
Cancer doesn’t care - but we do. I miss Louise terribly. No one else should suffer with this terrible disease.”
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to detect in its early stages due to many of the symptoms being associated with other illnesses.
We can save thousands more lives by equipping people with the information that can prevent ovarian cancer in those at highest risk and diagnose ovarian cancer in others as early as possible.