Ovarian cancer do you know the symptoms?

Angela Walker and her husband Hugh pose for the photographer for Ovarian Cancer Action

Angela Walker and her husband Hugh pose for the photographer for Ovarian Cancer Action

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March is ovarian cancer awareness month, Charlotte Harding finds out more about the sixth most common cancer in women.

Most of us can tell if something isn’t quite right with our own body, but when it comes to booking an appointment with you GP how many of us actually do?

The symptoms

The symptoms

Angela Walker knows all too well the importance of doing something when it isn’t quite right.

“I’ve always lead an active life, so when aged 46, I felt lethargic to the point of exhaustion, my stomach was bloated and going to the toilet was a nightmare I went to my GP,” she reveals.

“I was advised to see a dietician but my bloods were okay and my diet was healthy so I asked to see a specialist.

“Soon I was taking 48 painkillers a week to deal with the stomach pain.”

With a three-month wait to see the consultant, Angela decided to make a private appointment.

“I was diagnosed with a large tumour over both ovaries,” she explains. “I had been expecting to be told to eat more prunes.”

Ovarian cancer isn’t as well know as some other female cancers, yet it is the sixth most common with more than 7,000 diagnoses in the UK each year.

The UK has one of the lowest survival rates in Western Europe with a woman dying from ovarian cancer every two hours, resulting in 4,300 deaths annually.

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and this year’s theme, chosen by charity Ovarian Cancer Action, is ‘listen in’. If the symptoms are not normal for you, you should do something just as Andrea did.

In spite of her diagnosis, with her positive outlook and family’s support, Angela is very much here ‘with a smile on her face’.

“My mother was a marvel and stepped into my shoes whenever needed,” Angela says.

“My family and friends never failed to overwhelm with their love and care, cards, flowers, phone calls, shepherd’s pie and concern.”

Charity Ovarian Cancer Action recognises that speaking about your health can be difficult and has developed a symptoms diary on its website to help women record their symptoms, which they can take to their GP.

For more information about Ovarian Cancer Action, visit ovarian.org.uk

This feature first appeared in the March edition of etc Magazine, pick up your copy now.