Name: Elizabeth (Liz)
cancer: Ovarian cancer
Date Diagnosed: 2017
Location: New South Wales
Hi, my name is Elizabeth Anne Wright but most of you know me as Liz.
My story starts back in February 2015 when my GP noted a tiny spot on my right lung behind my shoulder blade, I underwent a wedge resection to remove the tumor and the biopsy came back with a diagnosis of Adenocarcinoma. The surgeon was confident he had removed all the tumor and decided he would watch and wait. Fast forward two years and in February 2017 fluid was found in the space around my right lung. This is called a Pleural Effusion. The doctor drained two and a half liters of fluid from my lung and did another biopsy. The results came back again as Lung cancer. Again, the decision was made to ‘watch and wait’. I walked around for five months believing I had Lung cancer.
In July 2017, I received a call from my Oncologist. They had reviewed my test results and films. She said, ‘They no longer believed I had Lung cancer. They felt I had High-Grade Serous Ovarian cancer Stage 4 with a 5% cure statistic. I have since learned that a Pleural Effusion can be an indicator of Ovarian cancer. I am not here to attack my doctors but to impress on everyone if the doctors find it so hard to detect there is little hope for us. They decided to use the CA125 blood test and it was from this test being elevated, that made them look a little further and finally find primary cancer.
I would like to try and bring more awareness to this insidious disease. At this point in time, there is no screening for Ovarian Cancer available. Doctors have suggested there are two methods that can be used to try and detect Ovarian cancer early. These are:
1. Take a CA-125 blood test once a year. This test is not reliable for everyone.
2. Have a Transvaginal Ultrasound every two years.
Even together, these two tests are not a 100% guarantee, but they are the only early markers available to Australian woman. At least an elevated blood test result would alert the Doctor to investigate further.
After going through this over the last two and half years I realise just how little we know about the dangers of not knowing enough about our own health and relying on Doctors or media to keep us informed. Ovarian Cancer can start at an early age, but more commonly in women who are post-menopausal or at-risk women with a family history of Ovarian Cancer, Breast Cancer, Uterine Cancer, and Bowel Cancer. This news hit me hard as I personally have two beautiful daughters, three granddaughters, and three great-granddaughters and my youngest daughter and her husband have just informed us they are having their first baby, we couldn’t be more excited. Because I have been diagnosed with this disease, all the women in my family are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. This is what is spurring me on.
Early Symptoms: usually none, or vague at best, feigning every day gut problems. Bloating, discomfort or pain in the abdomen or pelvis, flatulence, heartburn, nausea, tiredness, feeling of fullness, weight loss or gain, urgency in urinating and pain or bleeding with sex to name a few. But if you are like me you would not feel any of this until it’s too late. I would like to see government-sponsored programmes, bringing to the forefront, protocols dealing with awareness and early detection of Ovarian Cancer. And perhaps our GP’s could, as a matter of course when you reach the age of say 45 years; or post menopause whichever comes first could encourage us to have a CA125 blood test and Transvaginal Ultrasound. Although not a 100% guarantee, at least it would give us a fighting chance.
My cancer has been aggressive, and I have tolerated two lines of Chemotherapy treatments, and 4 surgeries and as of yesterday (Monday 25th Feb) I will be starting a Trial to get this cancer under control.
Day one of the trial is going well. I have had the Professor in to see me and check me over. A scientist, who is also my treatment Coordinator, has been at the foot of my bed almost constantly as well as 4 Nurses. My trial treatment started at 8am. They have given me a private room, completed blood and urine tests and once the blood tests came back, I started premeds to help with the side effects. One hour later they started treatment. They are pumping 1 liter of saline into my abdomen and 100ml of Cantrixil. So far everything is going well. I am cautiously confident.
I have a wonderful family, whom I love so very much. They keep me going and I will continue to fight this horrible disease.
Please, if you have any of the symptoms of Ovarian cancer, visit your GP and ask for a CA125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound. It might just save your life.
It is easier and more successful to fight Ovarian cancer at Stage 1 than Stage 4.
Thank you for reading my story.
You can visit Liz's website for more information about raising awareness for Ovarian cancer and the work that Liz is doing.