Thursday, 13 May 2021
Ovarian cancer tests
I heard on the news today that long term tests for ovarian cancer haven't resulted in any decrease in deaths from the disease.
This topic is close to my heart, and one that I've written about before, because of my brush with cancer 7 years ago. I noticed a lump by my right hip bone but it didn't hurt, so I went along to my GP just because it was unusual. To my astonishment, she booked me in to see a consultant the following week, plus blood tests etc.
When I got the phone call from the hospital to say that the appointment was with the Gynaeocological Oncology Unit, I was terrified. And well, it got worse from there - endless blood tests and scans later, I was told I had to have a radical hysterectomy and, because the tumour was so big, they couldn't do keyhole but would have to basically unzip me (not any medical term, to my knowledge), and recovery would be at least 12 weeks.
You can probably imagine how I felt. But thankfully having taken the tumour out and done biopsies, it was found to be abnormal cells rather than cancerous so I had check ups for 5 years and now have the all clear.
But imagine if I hadn't gone along for that check up. Well, I wouldn't be here now. Survival rates for ovarian cancer are low because it's not often detected early on.
As a nurse friend said, if I was bigger than I am, I probably wouldn't have noticed it. If I'd seen another GP who hadn't thought it was urgent, I might not be here now. So many ifs and buts - life is full of them. And they form such a part of writing, too.
So often when writing - and reading fiction - we may get to the end of a chapter, or a scene and think - What's going to happen next? What if she hadn't met X outside the tube on a rainy evening? What if she'd got the bus home? What if I hadn't been sitting in a friend's house when Pip had walked in? If I hadn't gone to that writers' evening, I would never have met the dear friend that looked after me when recovering from my hysterectomy. If I hadn't noticed a certain person's dog I would never have sent him a message.....
Life is so full of strange What Ifs. But to bring this full circle, if you have any worries about anything unusual going on in your body, please go and see your GP. Covid tends to have knocked cancer and many other diseases out of the limelight. But it could be the difference between being here - and not.