Candice's story: family beyond ovarian cancer
Updated: Mar 6, 2019
To celebrate the start of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in Australia, we share the incredible story of Candice who at age 24 experienced chemotherapy and the removal of a 15cm tumour, ovary, and fallopian tube. Candice overcame ovarian cancer and is now the proud mama of a beautiful baby girl. Today, she shares her tips for early diagnosis.
"My story begins on a Sunday Morning in April of 2011. I woke up to extreme stomach pain that seemed similar to the pain of severe gas.
It took me about 2 days of experiencing that pain with no relief before deciding it was more than gassy aches. I finally decided to have it checked out at an urgent care office.
After several questions and test being ran, no one was able to determine what was causing the pain, so I had a CT Scan.
A 12cm mass was found on my left side very close to my ovary. I saw an OBGYN the next day who confirmed that there was a tumour attached to my left ovary.
A week or so later, I had surgery to have the mass removed which had grown to 15cm. The diagnosis was a stage 3 germ cell teratoma.
During the surgery, the teratoma was removed along with my left ovary and fallopian tube. There was fluid around the tumour, so although the malignant part was removed, the specialist decided it was best to go through chemotherapy in case the fluid carried any other cancer cells through my body.
Soon after my 25th birthday, I began 3 rounds of aggressive chemo. Treatments lasted the whole summer with several trips to the infusion centre and a couple of days in the hospital after a dramatic drop in red blood cells. After completing chemo, I was free of cancer but still remained under the care of my oncologist for a few years.
Gratefully after 5 years, I was released from her care! During the years after chemo, I always wondered if I would ever be able to have children as the prognosis was unsure."
However, 7 years after this whole experience I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl. I experienced no physical complications during my pregnancy and delivered baby with ease.
What does that mean for you if you have ovarian cancer?
When asked what advice she would have for our sister cancer thrivers facing uncertainty about the possibility of motherhood, Candice replied:
Sometimes there's beauty in uncertainty. Although I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to have children, I didn't focus on it everyday - instead I honoured my body and all that I went through physically. I made the effort to be my most healthy self.
How can you protect yourself from ovarian cancer?
We often hear that ovarian cancer is harder to detect, so here's Candice's advice when it comes to prevention and early diagnosis of ovarian cancer:
Listen to your body and pay attention to even subtle changes. Now knowing the symptoms (although they seemed like normal things we go through as women) I realise that I had a few "silent" symptoms (such as bloating I assumed was weight gain or rushing to the bathroom to pee). Don't hesitate to have it checked out.
Thank you Candice for sharing your story and insights to help other women. You can connect to Candice on Instagram.
Now you see that it's so important to listen to your body and ask questions. Read about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Candice and Melanie xo