Miracle Marsh of Whakatane, New Zealand, was diagnosed with stage 1C3 mucinous ovarian carcinoma in 2022 at the age of 27.
“As a young working mama, I never thought cancer would be part of my journey,” she said.
She had been experiencing increased urgency to urinate, pain in her lower abdomen and pelvis, fatigue, change in bowel habits, loss of appetite and breathlessness.
“I also had swelling of the abdomen to the point where I looked ready to give birth,” she said.
After a negative pregnancy test, she was referred for a number of scans.
“My GP’s first thought was not ovarian cancer but liver cirrhosis,” Miracle said. “These results were slow and I chased my GP for answers and phoned almost every day to talk about my symptoms and my mental/emotional state, which was deteriorating.”
Eventually, she learned that she had a large mass and fluid in the abdomen that could be ovarian cancer. She was referred to a gynaecologist who requested additional tests, but then incorrectly told Miracle that the results were negative.
“Being misdiagnosed was the most traumatic part of this journey as I was told by my gynaecologist that pathology came back with no findings from the first biopsy and I was cleared for cancer,” she said.
After learning that cancer cells had in fact been found, Miracle had a laparotomy that removed her right ovary and fallopian tube along with a biopsy of the omentum and 6 litres of ascites fluid. She finally received an official diagnosis of stage 1C3 mucinous ovarian carcinoma.
She had another surgery to remove her other ovary and fallopian tube, uterus and appendix, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
Though Miracle’s cancer was diagnosed relatively early, there is still uncertainty. Stage 1C3 means cancer cells were detected in fluid taken during surgery from her abdomen and pelvis.
“My surgeon told me that chemotherapy isn’t always effective in my type of ovarian cancer. That’s hard to hear. Will I get to see my tamariki grow up? I really hope so,” she said. “I believe and know I should have been diagnosed a lot sooner, and I know I’m not the only one this has happened to.
“My hope is to bring awareness to my whanau and your whanau by sharing this journey,” she said. “Many voices create an impact and all wahine deserve a fighting chance. We need to make ovarian cancer diagnosis easier.”