Joanna Newlands, 37, from Blantyre, went undiagnosed with ovarian cancer for months before getting the “earth-shattering” news. Characterised by symptoms that aren’t “always obvious”, ovarian cancer targets the two small organs that house eggs. While anyone can develop this diagnosis, it is thought to “mostly” affect those over 50.
Ovarian cancer impacts around 7,500 women yearly in the UK, according to the Ovarian Cancer Action.
The sad aspect of this diagnosis is that it “often” gets picked up at a later stage when the survival rate is at its “lowest”.
Joanna is one of the women who waited months before getting an accurate diagnosis.
After a series of tests including a CT scan, a blood test and a hysterectomy, she got the “horrible disease” confirmed.
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She was diagnosed with an advanced “non-hormonal low grade serious ovarian cancer stage 3A”.
Joanna shared that her initial symptoms included:
- Intense pain
- Repeated urine infections
- Feeling nauseous
- Constant tiredness.
Speaking to Lanarkshire Live, Joanna said: “Back in May 2021 I started to notice intense back pain, so severe I couldn’t work and from there the symptoms worsened.
“The pain got worse and I had constant urine infections.
“I looked eight months pregnant with bloating, couldn’t fit into my normal clothes, I had pain in my pelvic area when passing urine and constantly felt sick and tired.
“I spoke to my GP practice weekly via telephone as I just wasn’t getting any better and still four months on, I was telling them about my re-current symptoms.”
The NHS explains that if you experience symptoms like these, you need to talk to your GP.
The mum of two continued: “I learned that my cancer is less resistant to chemotherapy and due to it being non-hormonal and a rarer form of cancer, the treatment options are limited – so my first option was to try the chemotherapy.
“I started that in November 2021 and have just finished my sixth and final session.”
The treatment for ovarian cancer is set based on your individual case. It can include surgery, chemotherapy and hormone treatments.
Now, Joanna is urging women with symptoms similar to her to get themselves checked at the earliest opportunity.
“Go see your GP and ask for a CA125 blood test – it could save your life,” she said.