Rachel’s advice to women is to “know the warning signs, trust your gut and don’t put off seeing your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. We need to talk about ovarian cancer.”
“This is when they found the cancer. Like little grains of sand peppered all over my abdomen, ovaries, omentum, etc. I was petrified to say the least.”
“People need to know not to ignore symptoms which seem vague and innocuous,” she said. “We need to be vigilant and not be fobbed off. I was lucky that my GP is also a gynaecologist. Her prompt actions led to my early diagnosis.”
“When they had told me after my major surgery that it was low-grade serous ovarian cancer, my world just felt like it had stopped,” she said. ”I couldn’t quite take the news in. Was this really happening to me?”She had chemotherapy, but a year later the pelvic cancer returned and another tumour was found between her heart and her chest.
“Life isn’t what it was,” she said. “Each day is filled with fear at the back of my mind. I’m more grateful for things. I say yes to more opportunities and experiences now as I’m aware the cancer may come back. I’m more resilient and patient than before. You don’t know how strong you are until you need to be strong. I’m not able to do lots of the things I previously could, I have advanced osteoporosis and I’m menopausal.”
“In hindsight I realise that I had been much more tired, which I put down to a busy lifestyle. I was feeling bloated but I put that down to constipation and poor dietary choices due to a hectic life. There always seemed to be a logical reason for the symptoms which I now realise collectively equated to the symptoms of ovarian cancer.”…
“I was devastated and assumed life was over,” she said. “I realise now I had PTSD as the delivery was so bad and without empathy. I was told to read some books on ovarian cancer and have some cake.”
“I’m eternally grateful to my doctor for taking it seriously as other doctors have said they wouldn’t have worried about it,” she said. “I had no idea I had anything wrong with me. I hadn’t really heard of ovarian cancer and had no idea of the symptoms.”
“I’m so grateful to research. Even though I still have cancer, the trial medicine (VS-6766) I’m taking is shrinking my tumors” she said. “If you’re experiencing a certain pain every day, please tell your doctor. Ask for an ultrasound. You know your body more than anyone and if you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, get it checked out,” she said.
“My students have been phenomenal. They have been caring and considerate. We have talked about cancer, chemotherapy, side effects and more. I’ve given them the opportunity to ask me anything about what I’m experiencing. They ask, and I answer. Teaching French and sharing my journey with my students has become very special to me.