Andrea standing in front of a whiteboard teaching after losing her hair to chemotherapy

Listen to Your Body

Your name: Andrea Cameron
Date of diagnosis: 15/10/2019
Age at diagnosis: 48
Ovarian cancer stage/type: 1C2 Mucinous

I am: a wife, mother of 2, daughter, a member of a large and loving family, with a few quality friends and I am a high school teacher. I use humour to get by in many situations. I am active in volunteering, particularly in the education of young women, supporting their ability to cope with change, as well as being active in health promotion and fundraising.

The cancer was found when:
At 30 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis – an inflammatory bowel disease. OC symptoms are very similar to Ovarian cancer, so in 2018 when I started having worsening symptoms, combined with changes in menstruation – I put it down to peri-menopause. Mistake number one- self diagnosis.

The doctors completed scans and said there was a cyst on my ovary and thickened uterus- (symptoms of the start of Ovarian cancer – BUT also very common in the onset of menopause). They said don’t worry – so I didn’t. At this stage, they should have asked me to come back in 6 months for monitoring – or warned me to keep a close eye on any changes. They didn’t – so I didn’t. Mistake number two – trusting someone else explicitly – even when I felt uncertain of it.

Fast forward to August 2019 when my symptoms were extreme, and even after I spotted a poster by Cure Our Ovarian Cancer on the back door of a toilet where I checked off all the symptoms – I thought I was overreacting and ignored it! I was supposed to be watching my daughter play hockey at a tournament – but was really sick and despite the regular bouts severe pain- enough to contemplate an ambulance – I still didn’t! Mistake Number three – worrying about being embarrassed with an ambulance or wasting hospital staff time!

It took 3 trips to the GP and eventually one asked to feel my stomach. She thought I must be pregnant as she could feel the 20cm tumour in my pelvic area.

I had enough warning signs, the poster was there, the worsening pain and every Ovarian cancer symptom – I did not listen to my body.

After surgery, chemo I realise I am one of the lucky ones, despite being a large tumour and having burst, I was still caught early and have a good prognosis. This drives me to use each day as wisely as I can and to do what I can to support others navigate their way in their health journey. I try to spend more time with my friends and family. Of course, I still make mistakes, but I am trying to learn from them each day.

How your donations would impact me:
They would give me hope, hope that other women are caught earl y- early detection saves lives!

What I would say to someone else going through this:
Listen to your body, be brave and ask for help. Accept the help. Whatever you do is right for you.