EVERYONE suffers with stomach pain from time to time, and in most cases it’s nothing to worry about.
But one woman is now urging others to take their persistent ailments seriously after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Chloe Etheridge started to feel unwell in December 2021.
The 24-year-old said she ‘ignored’ symptoms like bloating and difficulty with eating until her stomach pain became too bad.
The graduate only visited her doctor in April 2022, several months after the symptoms first started.
Chloe 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 which took three months.”
On July 11 2022, Chloe received her diagnosis of ovarian cancer and was told to pack her bags and go for chemotherapy the next day at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
The cancer is responsible for 4,100 deaths in the UK each year, which equates to around 11 each day, Cancer Research UK states.
There are around 7,495 cases each year and the illness has a survival rate of 35 per cent, data from the charity shows.
Chloe said she had been relieved to get a diagnosis, adding that the wait was hard as she knew as time passed, the tumour would only get bigger.
“I thought it would be a really cinematic moment where you go to the doctor with your mum and cry – but it was nothing like that.
“You go into action mode. I had to get on, it was a busy time, and I felt numb thinking, ‘Right we need to get on with this’.”
Since her diagnosis, she has had six months of chemotherapy.
The 4 symptoms of ovarian cancer you need to know
Symptoms of ovarian cancer often occur 12 or more times a month, the NHS states.
The main signs are:
- a swollen tummy or feeling bloated
- pain or tenderness in your tummy or the area between the hips (pelvis)
- no appetite or feeling full quickly after eating
- an urgent need to pee or needing to pee more often
The NHS states that you might also experience indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, back pain or feel tired all the time.
You might also lose weight without trying or bleed from the vagina after the menopause.
The NHS states that you should see your GP if you have any symptoms of ovarian cancer.
“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.
“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.”
On January 12 this year, Chloe had an operation to try and remove as much of the two tumours as possible.
She said the procedure went “really well”, and she is “expected to make a full recovery”.
GET CHECKED OUT
Chloe now wants to warn others about her symptoms – so they don’t make the same mistake as her.
She urged people to not stop going to their doctor until they get an answer.
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.”