I was thrilled to read about the new test that has been developed to diagnose ovarian cancer earlier, and cut down on surgery. You can read the article here.
The type of cancer which I received treatment for was germ cell cancer, and not ovarian cancer – a tumour grew on my otherwise healthy ovary. But during surgery, it became clear that my ovary had been destroyed and had to be removed. At 12 years of age, I’d only recently learnt that my ovaries existed; now I was being told that one of them had been removed.
It was clear that if the tumour had been discovered sooner, then I would have stood a good chance of keeping my ovary; but in reality my life was in the balance.
Today I am fully recovered but I believe that developing tests which can limit surgery on ovaries is essential, as living with one ovary is like leaping into the unknown. We don’t really know what the effect on our fertility will be, and it can push you into tough decisions like deciding to freeze your eggs when you may not even have considered whether or not you want children.
Life with one ovary is a risky business; this year I had to have surgery to remove a benign cyst on my one remaining ovary, and I didn’t know until I woke up from the operation whether or not my ovary was gone too. I was devastated when I learnt about the cyst three years ago, as I was scared of cancer and surgery and of losing my fertility.
I felt like my body had let me down, that history was playing a cruel trick on me, and that happy ovaries were not a part of my destiny. I was forced by this cruel situation into having gruelling IVF treatment to protect my fertility. I was relieved to discover that my ovary was still intact after the operation, and my chance of natural motherhood persisted.
I may not know if I want to have children yet, but I do know that I want the option to choose. Other women deserve the same.