Know The Symptoms And Push For Answers

In News, Our Stories by hollyops

Low grade serous carcinoma is slow growing and my doctor has told me he thinks I had cancer for at least 18 months before being diagnosed but I can recall symptoms as far back as three years prior to diagnosis, starting with some urinary symptoms – I felt like I was peeing all the time and sometimes it hurt to pee. I also started developing gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea and constipation.

I also noticed an increase in inexplicable pain specifically in my abdomen and pelvis and my periods also got more painful. My most suspicious symptom was bloating, specifically after sex. I had been with my husband for years and suddenly sex started to become extremely painful and after, I could watch my abdomen inflate to where I couldn’t put my pants back on.

I was diagnosed with IBS in 2018 and tried a variety of medications and different elimination diets, none of which helped. For three years, gastroenterologists and gynocologists shuffled me back and forth blaming my symptoms on the other system. I heard a lot of “you’re too young for something serious to be wrong.”

Two years later, I experienced such extreme fatigue that I would catch myself falling asleep in the middle of conversations. We were also in lock down due to the pandemic and multiple doctors told me I was likely depressed as an explanation for weight gain and fatigue. Over the next few months I was experiencing stabbing abdominal pain for a few days and my primary care physician advised me to go to the ER as she thought I had gallstones. Instead, they found a tumor on my liver during an ultrasound. I went for a follow-up MRI.

The tumor on my liver was ovarian cancer, but at the time they didn’t take a biopsy so we didn’t know that until I cried to my gynecologist about that appointment and how frustrated I was living with pain every day. He thought maybe I had endometriosis and referred me to a fertility clinic that later did a transvaginal ultrasound. They saw what they thought was a fibroid and cysts but decided to go ahead with a diagnostic surgery to explore the extent of endometriosis. They took biopsies and a week later I found out I had low grade serous ovarian cancer.

The fertility doctor was the one that told me what the pathology report had shown. I then immediately made an appointment with a major cancer center and that’s where my diagnosis was confirmed. Within another week, I had bloodwork and multiple CT scans as we planned for staged surgeries. As a young person and as a woman, I have learned to be my own advocate when it comes to health.

By Ellie Habib