19 Mar 19
A MUM had her crippling symptoms misdiagnosed as postnatal depression – when she had really been living with ovarian cancer.
Claire Thompson, 38, started struggling with extreme tiredness, bloating and low mood after giving birth to her daughter, Eirwen.
Claire Thompson was diagnosed with postnatal depression when she was really living with ovarian cancer
She eventually needed to have a full hysterectomy
The mum-of-one, from Conway, Wales, claims that her concerns were dismissed – even after she started to suffer such horrific periods that she needed to take spare changes of clothes to work and wear layers and layers of incontinence pads.
Docs said she simply had a case of postnatal depression.
“Something changed after the birth of my daughter,” she said.
“At the time I was told it was postnatal depression and was just part of me getting used to being a new mum.
She says that her debilitating symptoms were dismissed by docs
It took over 20 trips to A&E before docs properly investigated
“I felt really low and my stomach was extremely bloated and even when my periods stopped for a short while I was told I was probably just depressed.”
Claire went to A&E over 20 times, fearing that she’d “bleed to death”, before finally being referred for further tests.
By this point, the civil servant says that her swollen belly made her look seven months pregnant.
“Looking back, I had all the symptoms of ovarian cancer but it was all just passed off as part of my new life as a mum.
[boxout headline=”Symptoms of ovarian cancer”]Ovarian cancer affects about 7,000 women each year – making it one of the most common types of the disease in women.
Terrifyingly, 20 per cent of women are diagnosed when they’re at stage 4, meaning that it’s too far gone to treat.
Many symptoms of ovarian cancer are hard to recognise as they are similar to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Others have mistakenly thought that the swelling is a result of pregnancy.
Things to look out for include:
A swollen stomach
Feeling bloated constantly
Needing to urinate frequently
Discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
Feeling full quickly when eating
“Gradually my periods became heavier and I was using two layered maxi size incontinence pads every hour. At one point I was visiting my A&E department every two to three weeks for around 18 months.”
Medics eventually found a 10cm mass on her left ovary and fallopian tube but Claire claims they reassured her that it was likely to be a cyst.
It was only after she pushed for more tests that she was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had a full hysterectomy in 2016.
She said the diagnosis had made her want to “scream from the rooftop”.
She’s now sharing her story to warn other women that they know their own bodies best
“After the initial diagnosis, my whole world crashed around me, I didn’t know where to turn”
“I wanted to scream from the rooftops, ‘I have been telling you this for years, why didn’t you listen?’
“The word cancer is such a huge thing. After the initial diagnosis, my whole world crashed around me, I didn’t know where to turn.”
The brave mum is now celebrating being three years cancer-free by sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness of the often devastating disease.
Claire had to have three tumours removed. She named her biggest Gerald.
The hysterectomy forced Claire’s body into early menopause
She’s now been cancer-free for three years
“When I got told I was in remission, we threw a Christmas party to celebrate – in September!” she recalled.
“I decorated the entire house and left it up for the rest of the year. I want my daughter to look back and remember that as the year her mum was crazy enough to celebrate Christmas for four months, rather than the year mummy was ill.”
She said she wanted other women to know that they know their own bodies better than anyone else – even doctors.
“If you know something is wrong, go back and question things. You know your body better than any doctor,” she stressed.
She says that she’s not angry about her misdiagnosis but she hopes her story will help other women
“I didn’t have postnatal depression, I had cancer.
“I’m not angry about my misdiagnosis but I hope my story helps other women in the future.”
Claire is being supported by Target Ovarian Cancer – a leading UK charity for the disease.
Alexandra Holden, Director of Communications, Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “11 women die every day from ovarian cancer in the UK. There is no screening and one in five women is too ill to treat by the time they receive a diagnosis.
[article-rail-topic title=”MORE ON OVARIAN CANCER” term_id=”6342″ posts_number=”12″ /]
“Raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms is key, so this March, for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Target Ovarian Cancer is calling for a government-funded symptoms awareness campaign.
“Our research shows that one in five women mistakenly think a smear test can detect ovarian cancer.
“In reality, with no screening programme, it is even more important that women know the symptoms.”
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