Meet Suzie, and actress and singer from Romford who was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive ovarian cancer in 2017. Suzie has exhausted all treatment options available to her and is trying to raise enough support to try an innovative immunotherapy treatment that is not available on the NHS, whilst relying on research to deliver new treatments to help her survive.
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 I 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 one. However, further tests were to show that the cancer had reached my lymph nodes and I was diagnosed with Stage three/four 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.
In the last few years, I have undergone six rounds of chemotherapy and three different surgeries. Now, there are no treatment options left so I am trying to raise enough money to try immunotherapy treatment that isn't available through the NHS. In the meantime, I rely on research to deliver new treatments to help me survive.
Ovarian Cancer Action is like a bit of a beam of hope for me. Although the research that's going on at the moment may not necessarily help me, I just hope that it can really pave the way for women that are facing cancer.
Suzie’s story was shown on BBC One on the 31st of January as part of their Lifeline Appeal. Watch the full episode here.