Jo’s story

In Blog, Our Stories by karineumeyer

Jo Yates of Noosa, Queensland, was diagnosed with low-grade serous ovarian cancer in 2021 at age 42.

Jo says she was told her situation is pretty rare “because the masses on both ovaries weren’t cancerous but when they did a biopsy after my hysterectomy they found cancerous cells elsewhere.”

Jo was diagnosed with ovarian borderline tumours which are a pre-cancerous condition. At least ten percent of people with advanced borderline tumours go on to develop low-grade serous ovarian cancer. 

Borderline tumours are normally treated with just surgery, but because low-grade serous ovarian cancer was also found Jo doctors recommended chemotherapy. 

Low-grade serous ovarian cancer can occur in young women and tends to not respond well to current ovarian cancer chemotherapy. It is challenging because even within low-grade serous ovarian cancer, there can be marked differences in the molecular tumour characteristics in one patient compared to the next. 

Though ovarian cancer isn’t detected by cervical screening it was an irregular Pap smear which lead to the scans which found her ovarian tumours. Jo said she was fit and healthy and enjoying an active lifestyle at the time. 

“It was total luck,” she said.

“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.”

Jo is coming to terms with the changes in her body. “I feel confident in my medical team and for a good outcome but hate the way I look at the moment.”