Your name: Kristen Larsen
Date of diagnosis: November 2013
Age at diagnosis: 21
Country: Diagnosed in London, England. Home is Brisbane, Australia
I am: When I was 21, I had the world at my feet. I lived by the quote, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”. I had moved from Australia with my sister and started an exciting new life in London.
I always wanted to live a big and enriching life- to travel and to make meaningful memories with those I love. My life looks different to how I ever could have pictured. I will never have my own children, but I am mum to chihuahuas. I launched myself into Teal advocacy, raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer and funds for research. My life will be short, but I am determined to live because life is beautiful.
The cancer was found when: I woke up vomiting and in sudden and severe abdominal pain. I now know this to be from the tumours squeezing my bowel. I went straight to my GP and she suspected appendicitis and sent me off to the ED. It was there that they discovered an abdomen with wide-spread disease. A biopsy and MRI confirmed Stage 3C Low Grade Ovarian Cancer. It had spread well beyond my womb, had riddled my large bowel and spread alongside my liver and up to my diaphragm.
How your donations would impact me: I have been in constant treatments since my diagnosis, but I have benefited from clinical trials. I have had real success from drugs that were originally developed for other cancers- but I was able to try them thanks to research opportunities. I have also tried drugs I otherwise would never have been able to access had it not been through a trial setting. These have all prolonged my life here on this earth. On the other hand, I have also not qualified for trials, simply because I have Low-Grade.
I know firsthand how crucial research is for survival. There are brilliant researchers out there who need the funding to test out their ideas. Without the evidence we cannot know what will work or get government approvals. I am too quickly running out of options so your donation would mean everything to me.
What I would say to someone else going through this: To know that the toughest of times lie ahead, that the pain, the fear, the sickness will be overwhelming at times, but to never stop holding onto hope. Hold on tight, because life is worth it. Be purposeful with your time. Prioritise what gives you meaning, what you enjoy and who you love most in this world.