A RUSTINGTON woman is this week highlighting her tale of surviving cancer to mark a month-long awareness drive.
Helen Standing is fronting a campaign, which was launched this week by ovarian cancer charity Ovacome, to make people more aware of disease’s symptoms.
The 41-year-old overcame the condition in 2014. However, this week she has revealed how, to begin with, she thought she was suffering with the side-effects of IVF treatment.
“It was a real surprise,” said Helen, of Goodwood Close. “It was a tough time as my husband Gary’s mum had been diagnosed with cancer just before I was.”
Helen’s story began in 2013, when she first started to feel abdominal pain during her first of two failed courses of IVF, in April.
Thinking the discomfort was just an after-effect of the treatment, Helen continued with it. However, when the pain did not disappear, she was told to give up on IVF in September, 2013.
“I thought it was my body still reacting to the treatment in my system,” she said. “But then, in December, my tummy started to get bigger and bigger and I had indigestion when I ate.
“My stomach was so bloated that I had to buy a larger pair of jeans. At this point, thinking that I had ovarian cysts, I went to see my GP in January, 2014.”
Helen’s GP at Westcourt Medical Centre, in The Street, referred her to a gynaecologist and while waiting for the appointment she had a haemorrhage.
Later, tests at the hospital revealed she had stage three ovarian cancer, which has since spread to her spine.
Brave Helen said, deep down, she expected the diagnosis as her family had a history of cancer.
“My gran and aunt both had cancer, one was breast cancer the other had ovarian cancer,” she said.
Helen has undergone two bouts of surgery and chemotherapy. The treatments are helping to keep her cancer at bay.
Now, she is determined to do whatever she can to raise awareness of the disease.
For the rest of March, Helen, who works at Stuart Jones, in Artex Avenue, Rustington, will be painting her nails teal. She hopes this will create a talking point.
“I just want people to know this can happen at any age, so to always get themselves checked,” she said.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common form of the disease in women.