Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Why I’m hosting an ‘Afternoon Teal’:

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be so vague and so 'everyday' that you need to be alert to your own body & trust your instinct.
By Alexia James
Date: January 31 2014
Editor Rating:

Many women who get ovarian cancer don’t realise it until it’s too late – yet identifying the symptoms and dealing with them early is the key to survival.

The symptoms are both so vague and so common that we can put them down to just not feeling well, menopause, the common “oh, it’s just old age” and a busy lifestyle.

The main risk factor is one none of us can do anything about: age. Ovarian cancer sufferers tend to be over 50 – but it can and does affect women of all ages. But one of the other key risk factors is being a Caucasian woman in a western country with a high standard of living. That's quite a lot of us!

I was 42 when I began to feel something wasn’t right.

I had a busy executive job, my children were both at university, I was normal weight, kept healthy and exercised vigorously not as often as I liked but at least twice a week but my abdomen was bigger than it should be and I was regularly experiencing really shocking – often crippling - pelvic pain for no apparent reason. If I tell you it felt worse than childbirth, you might have an idea of how bad these bouts were. I also felt really tired.

I was then living in Canberra and I visited two GPs. It took a third GP to appreciate that I wasn't just being 'pre-menopausal'. The GP ordered further tests, and then referred me immediately to a gynaecological oncologist in Sydney. What began then was treatment involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and a change to our lives - which was nothing about 'change of life'!

My work was ver good to me, enabling me to work remotely when necessary for treatment, to reduce my hours and take significant time off.

However, around two years after my initial treatment, my husband and I had to move cities, and I changed jobs to what turned out to be a much more stressful job in quite a hostile environment where I was expected to work 70 to 80 hours a week.  The job was a big mistake for many reasons.

I started to feel unwell again, and the oncologist told me that he was worried about a possible secondary cancer so I had some further precautionary treatment. 

Today, I am healthy, other than for fairly normal (almost) 51-year-old complaints. I exercise regularly, I feel fit and healthy most of the time, but not all the time. When I get an unexplained pain, I tend to worry that it's come back again. I also left the awful job and started working from home doing work which doesn't pay anywhere near as much but has its own challenges and keeps me very busy. I also make sure we go on a holiday each year.

The key for me in being a survivor of ovarian cancer was being absolutely certain within myself that there was something not right. If I had listened to the first doctor, and then the second, I think I probably wouldn’t be alive now.

But because I insisted on being more thoroughly investigated, it led to immediate treatment and a much better chance of getting better. For me, the treatment wasn't the issue, but the diagnosis was. I never thought for a moment that I wouldn’t survive – even when I was feeling really, really bad with treatment.

One of my children is now about to embark upon studying to be a medical oncologist. This is a wonderful achievement for him but he says that he first became interested in the field as he watched me sink to rock-bottom and then slowly, but surely, come back - if not to 100% , but at least around 90% of my 42-year-old self. That, in itself, is another good to come out of this experience for our family and we do feel blessed.

Experts such as A/Professor Deborah Marsh from the Kolling Institute and Ovarian Cancer Australia say that the symptoms that are reported most frequently are:

  1. abdominal or pelvic pain
  2. increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bleeding
  3. needing to urinate more frequently or urgently
  4. feeling full even after eating a small amount of food.

If you have any of these symptoms, and if they are new and you have experienced them multiple times during a four week timeframe, then please visit your GP. And if you're not satisfied, visit another and so forth.

If you wish to discuss your symptoms or the support services available from Ovarian Cancer Australia, call 1300 660 334.

Share This Tweet This Email To Friend
Recent Comments
0 Total Comments
Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:33343

Your Comment has been posted
Related Articles
February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month - a time to…
Read more
Cry babies

Dry your eyes!
The newest additions are on their way from the Babies who cry real tears!


Latest Tech Used In Shipping Containers
Read how the shipping industry has revolutionised

Motherpedia cover-2

Win 1 set of a 4-book hardcover illustrated boxed set
Barbara Murray’s new 4-book Sound Stories is perfect for parents and educators and could assist with NAPLAN results

Motherpedia cover (4)

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest Australia
Get ready for this celebration!

Motherpedia cover-4

A Fortnight of Foodie Experiences at East Village
A taste of East Village. What's in it for me?

Globber my too fix up cover

We Try: Globber My TOO Fix Up
A scooter that grows with your child

Throw a winning cricket pitch

3 Steps to a Winning Backyard Cricket Pitch
Ex-Adelaide Oval legend curator Les Burdett shares his tips for getting your backyard cricket pitch test match ready this summer

A bike that follows your kids life cycle - motherpedia - cover

A Bike That Follows Your Kids Life Cycle
Check out the Bunzi 2-in-1 gradual balance bike!

Moonlight lifestyle

Moonlight Cinema to bring…
Moonlight Cinema announces brand new Western Sydney venue

Screen shot 2019-11-26 at 8.29.12 am

Your Magical Christmas Wonderland…
Adventure park is about to light up the night sky with its "Christmas Festival of Lights"

Screen shot 2019-11-21 at 11.11.36 am

The Preston Market Gets…
It's time to feel pumped up for the holiday season!


Bunnings team members get…
Help raise funds by buying a snag or donating at your local store.