What are the signs of ovarian cancer?
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Cancer might be reluctant to rear its ugly head at first but once you start experiencing warning signs, you need to get them checked. Chloe Etheridge, 24, from Whitstable, Kent, knows this far too well. The graduate, who “ignored” her own cancer symptoms for months, is now urging others to go and see a doctor if they are worried.
Ovarian cancer targets the two small, oval-shaped organs that store the eggs needed to make babies.
Chloe was diagnosed with this cancer type seven months after she started experiencing the first symptoms.
She “ignored” signs like bloating and difficulty eating until her stomach pain became too bad.
Chloe said: “Book your GP appointment and don’t stop going until you get an answer.
“If you feel like you don’t have an adequate answer – keep going back.”
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The graduate explained that the first warning signs, including bloating and abdominal pains, cropped up in December 2021.
However, Chloe waited until April, when the pain became too severe, to see a doctor.
She said: “I ignored all of those things – which wasn’t the right thing to do.
“In April I had really bad stomach pain so I had to go to A&E and I found out I had tumours on my ovaries. One was 18cm long and one was 11cm long.
“Between April and July, we knew there was something wrong with me but we didn’t know exactly what my diagnosis was.”
Chloe finally received the gloomy news on July 11 and was told to pack her bags and go for chemotherapy the next day at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
She was suffering from germ-cell ovarian cancer, which describes a disease in which cancer cells form in the germ cells of the ovary.
Chloe said: “I was relieved to finally get a diagnosis. The waiting was horrible and knowing it is growing bigger, I wanted to get started on the treatment.”
Since then, the 24-year-old had to undergo surgery and six months of chemotherapy.
The graduate said: “The doctor said it was one of the most aggressive forms of chemo they could prescribe and it is only available at two hospitals in the UK.
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“It was incredibly brutal. My chemotherapy had seven different chemical components.
“The side effects were horrendous. I had nausea, fatigue, hearing loss – I still can’t hear some frequencies now.”
Fortunately, the treatment went “really well” and she is “expected to make a full recovery”.
The young woman now wants to raise awareness about symptoms so people can get checked out when they identify the red flag signs.
She said: “I did not realise they were symptoms of cancer. I don’t think young women know the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about getting it when you’re old or having a family history.
“I didn’t have any of them. The only thing you need is ovaries.
“I think for women because we have periods, it is assumed that we are meant to live with pain but that should not be the case.
“If you are feeling uncomfortable, you should go to your doctor and get it checked out.”
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