A BRAVE mum who survived ovarian cancer is urging others to be aware of the symptoms as she marks the anniversary of her life-changing diagnosis.
Janet Richards, of Simister Lane, Simister, is helping to promote awareness of the symptoms this month, Ovarian Cancer Month.
The former civil servant, aged 52, knew the signs of ovarian cancer because her mother died from it, but she was only diagnosed with the illness after the third visit to her GP in four months when she asked for a scan.
That was in March 2012, and Janet said her experience was far from unusual.
She said many women with ovarian cancer symptoms go back to the doctor time and time again, some even for years, but are repeatedly misdiagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome or a urinary tract infection.
Janet said: “Looking back I should have been more insistent but at the time I was happy to be reassured I didn’t have anything too serious to worry about.
“I had a demanding job, a husband and two teenagers so I didn’t have the time to be ill but I knew deep down that something was not right.
“I was too busy to really listen to my body and insist my symptoms were taken seriously.”
After major surgery and five gruelling months of chemotherapy, in November 2012 doctors told Janet she was in remission and she now has checkups every three months.
She took part in the Greater Manchester 10km run in May last year, six months after finishing her treatment, to raise money for The Christie where she was treated.
Janet has been supported throughout her experience by husband Lee, aged 47 and sons Ben, aged 20 and Toby, aged 18.
Ovarian Cancer Month is pioneered by four charities – Target Ovarian Cancer, Ovacome, Eve Appeal and Ovarian Cancer Action.
The disease affects one in fifty women and kills around 4,300 nationwide each year.
Symptoms include increased stomach size and persistent bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain that does not go away, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and needing to urinate more urgently or often than usual.
Family history of ovarian cancer also increases risk of the disease.
Janet added: “Thankfully I am currently very well, and hope to stay that way.
“I wanted to do something to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms, so I wrote a poem about my experiences.
“Most women don’t get diagnosed until their cancer is at a later stage than mine was and it is a really big problem.
“I hope that others will read it and if anyone is worried they will seek medical advice early.”
It creeps up slowly, you won’t know it’s there,
With no regard for who you are, it really doesn’t care.
Don’t ignore the whisperings, the niggling inside,
Listen carefully to your body, don’t give it a place to hide.
Bloating that’s persistent, pain or discomfort maybe?
Always rushing to the loo, frequent need to wee?
Feeling full too quickly, losing your appetite,
These symptoms may be a sign; something isn’t right.
Carrying on your busy life, always in a hurry,
Feeling something isn’t right, but trying not to worry,
Just take a moment, listen to your body, what are you really feeling?
Something strange, just not right? Vague symptoms can be revealing.
Oh I’m fine I hear you say, I don’t feel ill, it’ll go away.
Well it may be fine, and maybe not, so it’s best to get it checked out today.
Your GP may be aware, blood tests, scans, the best of care,
But sadly some are not so clear, vague symptoms may lead them to look elsewhere.
So be mindful of the symptoms, seek help quickly, please don’t wait
Seek answers to your questions, don’t leave it too late.
Most of the time, things are fine, the symptoms don’t lead to big C,
But when they do, early action is key, as it’s treated more easily.
So please spread this word to others, make an effort to share,
To all women, be Ovarian Cancer aware