Suzie Aries was diagnosed with Stage 3/4 ovarian cancer, aged 25. She shares her story and explains why research into early detection is so important.
“Towards the end of 2016, I started experiencing persistent bloating and constant exhaustion. I had a very busy and active lifestyle but suddenly began to struggle to stand up on the tube for the duration of my morning commute. By Christmas, where I’d usually be the life and soul of the party, I was so tired that I had to sleep through most of the celebrations.
When I returned to work in January, my manager noticed that looked really unwell and sent me home. I went back to my parents’ house to recuperate and made an appointment to get myself checked out.
Luckily, the nurse practitioner took me seriously, listening to my symptoms and immediately ordering a blood test. She told me that it could be any number of things – and that the worst-case scenario was that it could be cancer. She reassured me however that because of my age and good health, that this would be extremely unlikely.
When the results came back, it became clear that something was wrong – they indicated infection and poor kidney function. After some further tests and an ultrasound, the doctors discovered that I had a large mass on my left ovary. Although I needed a further CT scan, they weren’t able to do this as my renal function was failing because my kidneys were being physically impacted by the mass.
"Now, my main focus is to make sure that every day is a good one"Suzie Aries
Later, I underwent surgery to remove the mass, losing my left ovary in the process. After further tests, I was told that the mass was cancerous and the size of a rugby ball. I was shocked that this mass had grown so large, but once they removed it my energy was restored and I felt almost back to my old self.
At first, it looked positive when they found no obvious signs that the cancer had spread and it was initially thought that my cancer was stage 1. However, further tests were to show that the cancer had reached my lymph nodes and I was diagnosed with Stage 3/4 ovarian cancer, aged 25.
Being diagnosed with ovarian cancer was devastating and left me feeling so frustrated. It felt not only unfair on me, but also on all of my friends and family, who had put their lives on hold to support me through it.
I underwent six gruelling rounds of chemotherapy; after three cycles, the cancer in my lymph nodes had disappeared. This was amazing news, but after three months I was told the cancer had come back, this time around my bowel. Since January, I have been lucky to be on a clinical trial which has stopped the cancer from progressing and has allowed me to live my life normally! Now, my main focus is to make sure that every day is a good one
Prior to my diagnosis, I didn’t know that the symptoms I had been experiencing were ovarian cancer symptoms – the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.
An early detection screening tool is so important to ensure that women don’t have to go through what I’ve had to.”