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Sarah – ‘this diagnosis doesn’t mean the end of your life – you are still living’

17 May 2023


In May 2016, Sarah sat by her 94 year old Grandma’s side whilst she died of ovarian cancer. Her Great Grandmother had died of it in her 60’s too. 18 months later, Sarah’s experience of ovarian cancer became even more personal.

‘I always had it in my head that I could possibly get it, even though tests have shown it’s unlikely to be hereditary (I don’t have the BRCA gene mutation). It just never occurred to me that over just over a year after watching my Grandma, that I would be diagnosed myself.

I had just turned 40 and whilst I didn’t have the healthiest lifestyle, I was active, going to the gym on a regular basis and running. I’d often suffered with a bloated stomach, but I’d always put that down to IBS. But then I started lacking energy and the bloating became constant. People were starting to ask me if I was pregnant! Then, during my period, I was getting a sharp pain in my stomach, different to before, and a lump I could feel in my stomach. I ignored it the first time but the next month I experienced the same again. When I mentioned it to a work colleague, they insisted I made an appointment with my GP. I had blood tests and scans, and it went downhill quickly. I was in quite a bit of pain; I could hardly walk.

And then I received my results. I wasn’t surprised but was devastated that with a stage 4 diagnosis I had little chance of living longer than five years and my only option was chemotherapy (surgery was deemed too dangerous). 

I thought of my 14-year-old daughter. I wanted to see her grow up.


I had an amazing response to six sessions of chemo, but still no option to get rid of the remaining cancer. I did my own research and surgeon, Professor Christina Fotopoulou was recommended to me. Weeks later I had the surgery, and it was that hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I had a full hysterectomy, spleen removed, stomach lining stripped, liver stripped, and part of my diaphragm wall removed. It was the toughest battle I have faced. 

Since then, I’ve had a couple of recurrences and more rounds of chemo, but I made it past the five years. My blood tests show my CA125 is rising again, but I’m determined to never give up. 

I’m running again, getting personal best after personal best (completed the Yorkshire Marathon in just over 4 hours). I love seeing people’s faces when I tell them I have stage 4, incurable, ovarian cancer. I love showing them that this kind of diagnosis, doesn’t mean the end of your life; you’re still living.

In Sarah's Name, help us reach a world where ovarian cancer is a survivable disease for every woman