In January this year I was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. After three rounds of chemotherapy I was approved for major surgery. I had a fourth round of treatment and then went to Aberdeen for my operation. I had a full hysterectomy, my appendix, spleen and omentum were all removed. I also had part of my pancreas, liver, diaphragm, peritoneum and bowel removed. I knew beforehand that I might wake up with a colostomy bag. It’s the first question I asked in the recovery room.
I’ve always been a positive person. I think that you always have a choice in how you react to any situation and I don’t think a late stage cancer diagnosis should be any different. I decided early on in my diagnosis that I could either sit in a corner and cry or go out and enjoy life as much as I can. I chose the latter and it’s been great. Yes, there have been hard times but there is always something to be grateful for.
I want to live each day as if it were my last. I love having fun and making other people laugh. I’m studying ashtanga yoga and meditation at the moment and would love to one-day use this alongside my PhD in children’s outdoor play to help others achieve holistic health. Maybe I’ll write a book…
I want to see ovarian cancer have the same awareness as breast cancer. Over 7000 women in the U.K. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year but so many women aren’t aware of the symptoms. Many women think a smear screens for ovarian cancer – it doesn’t! I want to raise awareness. I’ve said from the start that if my diagnosis can help even just one woman get diagnosed earlier then it’s been worth it.
I write a lot about body image. I think women (and men) receive a lot of pressure from the media to look a certain way rather than focusing on their health. I am grateful for my body because I am alive – my scar and colostomy bag are a reminder of how lucky I am to be alive. I’m proud of them; not ashamed.
I have bad days, as does everyone but what makes life easier, is a good home delivery service. I love the respond service! I didn’t know much about it at first and wasn’t guided very clearly by the hospital- like how to make orders and get prescriptions etc. but now I’ve got to grips with the service it’s amazing! The staff are so helpful and I always have bags when I need them. The fact that they are delivered straight to my door is a real help especially when I was having chemotherapy and didn’t always feel well enough to venture out. It’s a life saver! If I could sum up respond in three words it would be; reliable, fast and supportive.