A mother-of-two has described fearing for her life when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, in a bid to support gynaecological cancer awareness month.
Harrogate mum, Jo Beagley, 41, was just 39 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer - a condition which typically occurs in women aged over 65.
But nearly a year after she was given the all-clear, this September, Jo has spoken out about her ordeal to encourage more women to look out for the symptoms.
She said: “I was a pretty fit and healthy person and had no obvious symptoms other than a bit of abdominal bloating and pain.”
Jo visited her GP but when the pain worsened, further tests revealed she would need a full hysterectomy.
Jo said: “’Cancer’, the word I was desperately hoping not to hear, despite a gut feeling that the news wouldn’t be good.
“My immediate thoughts were – am I going to die? When am I going to die? My boys are going to grow up without a mother!”
Following her operation Jo underwent four months of chemotherapy and 16 months of angiogenesis inhibitor drug treatment at Spire Leeds Hospital which she completed in December.
Tests just before Christmas 2015 showed her to be clear but Jo will continue to be monitored for risk of recurrence.
Jo points out the symptoms are difficult to spot particularly because of their similarity to other ailments and the lack of a national screening programme.
She said: “It turns out that the cancer may have unknowingly been part of my life since early in 2013.
“I think there’s a considerable communication effort required to raise awareness of these symptoms so women can recognize them and get them checked out at an early stage.”
Ten months into her illness Jo started a blog, to show the reality of living with the diagnosis and going through treatment, in the hope it might help others in the same situation.
Despite her initial fears, Jo said she was determined to take a positive approach to her diagnosis and refused to let the illness take over her life.
She said: ”From the outset I’ve been determined to adopt a positive outlook, accepting there’ll be times when I’ll wobble, but on the whole I’m going to be a fighter and cancer’s not going to get the better of me.”