The Silent Killer

One sunny August morning in 2014, my Mum phoned me to tell me she was feeling unwell. She went to the doctors, who thought she had a urine infection. However, a week later, her symptoms were a lot worse and she was rushed into hospital (still with a suspected urine infection.)

Five days later, after a CT scan, the doctors called us to a meeting and said that Mum had both ovarian cancer and cancer of the liver. As you can imagine, we were shocked – but the doctor said he would have to do a MRI scan to find out more. Mum had the MRI and the day after the doctor called us to his office.

The cancer had spread everywhere, and he would need to do a biopsy the next day. Now my mum had not eaten anything since she went to hospital so was very weak, but her spirits seemed high. On having the biopsy, Mum was told there was nothing they could do. She would only have about 3 to 6 months left to live and we should look at moving her to a hospice.

We were devastated to hear this news it was such a shock as Mum had not shown signs of being so ill. Mum was 71 but she was a very active lady. She went ballroom dancing twice and week, dug her allotment, was involved in several ladies’ groups and went to church each week. She also made sure she had her grandchildren for tea weekly. She had never shown any signs of illness before so it was unbelievable that she was not going to come home again.

Mum was moved into a hospice two and half weeks after she was admitted to hospital, however two days later, she passed away. It was such a shock that everything happened so fast. We had not had time to take in the fact she had cancer when she died.

March is ovarian cancer month and I believe more should be done to make women aware of the disease, especially on International Women’s Day. There is still no national screening for this cancer, yet 7300 women get diagnosed in the UK each year and a staggering 60% of these are diagnosed at a late stage.

Ovarian cancer does have some symptoms; however, they are often very subtle and easily mistaken for other problems. In some rare cases early stage ovarian cancer may produce symptoms, but in most women, these don’t show until the cancer has advanced.

Signs and symptoms and when should you be concerned:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Pain
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

If your symptoms are new (started in the last 12 months,) persistent, frequent,or unusual, you should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. Try and keep a record of your symptoms and take this with you as it might help lead to a speeder diagnoses.

Unfortunately, I do not know if my Mum had ever shown any of these symptoms and chosen to ignore them thinking it was something and nothing until it was too late. If you’re worried about yourself or someone you know, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

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