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Mary: ‘I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at only 12 years old - but it’s not stopped me from following my dreams’

09 May 2023

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Doctors made the horrifying discovery that Mary had an ovarian tumour when she was just a child.

Here Mary, who is now 22, talks about diagnosis, and how her resilience and passion for dance has given her hope for the future.

“I went to hospital with pain in my lower abdomen, and after several scans and tests, I was told I had appendicitis. When they operated to remove my appendix, they found a tumour on my right ovary.

They sent off a biopsy for further investigation. When the results came back, I was told the tumour was cancerous. It was so scary.

Throughout these years I was in and out of Cardiff's Children's Hospital every month or so, because I had to have lots of scans, tests and treatment. I knew it was very rare to be a child with ovarian cancer.

I had to deal with so much at a young age. I was put onto Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as I was no longer able to produce hormones for myself. 

When I was 14, I had an operation to remove my left ovary because they found that it was in danger of developing a tumour too. Sadly, this meant I lost my chance of having children naturally. This was a really hard truth to accept.

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Even when I was having my treatment, I never once gave up on my dream of becoming a dancer.


Dancing has kept me going throughout all of these years. It’s always been my escape from reality. 

 I’ve always wanted to become a professional dancer, but there were times during my treatment when I couldn’t dance. I wasn’t allowed to until six to eight weeks after surgery. This was hard but I was so determined to still follow my ambitions, so I was always in the studio observing my friends and peers as they danced.

I’m now in my third year of studying Dance Performance at the Creative Academy and I've starred in the music video for Miracle by Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris. In June 2023, I have a graduation show in Marylebone, which is where I hope to get an agent so I can start working professionally.

I’m excited for the future and really want to raise money to support patients with ovarian cancer.


I’m also really passionate about helping other people with ovarian cancer. I have taken part in several running events, and have even danced non-stop for a day to fundraise for charity! It has been a dream of mine to run the London Marathon and I would love to do so, in aid of Ovarian Cancer Action. 

I get quite emotional at these events, and I struggle to talk publicly about what has happened to me. But after each event I always feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. 

I’m growing to accept what happened and I’m very proud of who I am today. I had always kept my feelings to myself and bottled them up, up until a year ago when I started talking about them to a therapist. 

I have four different scars including a big caesarean scar, and I know I am a strong woman because of what I’ve been through.”

We’re funding ground-breaking breakthroughs in treatment and care for patients with ovarian cancer. Scientists at our Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre are working very hard, but we know that there is so much more we need to do. 

Can you take on a challenge in 2023 to help fund research for pioneering new treatments?