Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Today i am in my local paper doing what i can to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer. Here is my story:


As her oncologist uttered the words "all clear", Tracey Ford broke down in tears.

After major surgery, numerous rounds of chemotherapy and check-ups every six months, the 48-year-old was told last month she was free of ovarian cancer.​


SURVIVOR: Tracey Ford with her dog Bertie.



"It was such a relief when I heard those words," says Tracey, of Beverley.

"Luckily, I was diagnosed at an early stage. My symptoms were spotted and a biopsy was done straight away, which I think was vital."

Last month, the Department of Health announced that the North East Yorkshire and Humber Clinical Alliance will be part of an ovarian cancer symptoms awareness pilot, as part of its national programme, Be Clear On Cancer.

The programme will mean that early next year, residents in the East Riding, Hull and North Lincolnshire will have the opportunity to increase their awareness of ovarian cancer, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment for women in the region with the disease.

Like many women, Tracey did not know anything about ovarian cancer before she was diagnosed in November 2006.

After six months of heavy periods and a bloated stomach, she made an appointment to see her GP.

"Nobody seemed to know what the cause was, but I was booked in to have a Mirena coil fitted, to make my periods lighter," said Tracey.

"As I hadn't had children, my cervix was high, so I had to be put under general anaesthetic for the operation.

"When I came round, the doctor told me they found my uterus was the size of a 20-week- old foetus and riddled with fibroids.

"I was told a hysterectomy would almost certainly be necessary.

"I was so fed up with having a bloated stomach and being in pain, I was relieved that something was going to be done."

A week later, Tracey received a call asking her to visit the hospital.

She thought she was going to discuss the date and details for her hysterectomy, but instead, she was told some news that would change her life.

"While I was being examined during the coil fitting, the doctors had taken a biopsy, which showed I had ovarian cancer," said Tracey.

"At first, I wondered how long I was going to live. They told me they had found it quite early, so they had a good chance of treating it.

"My next fear was whether I was going to lose my long hair."

Tracey had a hysterectomy in January 2007. While she was lying in her hospital bed after the operation, her consultant came along and dealt her another blow.

"During the surgery, they discovered I had endometrial cancer, too," said Tracey.

"It was such a shock and the following month, I started a course of chemotherapy. They told me it was very unusual for women to have both ovarian and endometrial cancer.

"I lost all of my hair, lashes and eyebrows as a result of the treatment. I also had to have a course of internal radiotherapy that summer."

Because of her health, Tracey had to give up her job in a local pharmacy, as her immune system was low and could affect her treatment.

It was a role she loved, so she studied for her dispensing course at home in between her hospital visits.

"It's been very hard, but I'm OK now," said Tracey.

"My health isn't great. Because of the chemotherapy, I now have peripheral neuropathy, which affects my nervous system. I struggle to walk and have trouble with my balance."

Since her diagnosis, Tracey has been involved with Target Ovarian Cancer, helping to raise awareness of symptoms and she hopes by sharing her story, more women will take note.

Target Ovarian Cancer's chief executive, Annwen Jones, says the ovarian cancer symptoms awareness pilot in East Yorkshire is an important development and one that will genuinely save lives.

"Currently only 3 per cent of Yorkshire and Humber women are very confident of spotting a symptom of ovarian cancer, demonstrating the desperate need for a national awareness programme," said Annwen.

"We look forward to seeing the initial pilot outcomes during 2013 and hope a national campaign will follow soon after."

Target Ovarian Cancer has been campaigning tirelessly for this step, with evidence from its most recent Pathfinder Study revealing that ovarian cancer symptom awareness among women has not improved since 2009, reinforcing the need for a large scale campaign.

The charity first urged the Government to act to increase awareness of the disease in 2009, and in 2010, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ovarian Cancer was formed.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson, who is a member of the APPG, said: "I am very pleased by this decision, and look forward to seeing the impact it will have in Yorkshire and Humberside.

"The recognition that ovarian cancer is a major health concern is long overdue, so this is an important step forward, and one that could potentially save many women's lives."



  1. You are a beautiful inspiration. How wonderful that you took this obstacle, this challenge, this terror, and turned it into a goal to helping others.

  2. woohoo! blogged you boom boom! Nice work 99!

  3. That's great Tracey. It's not called the silent killer for nothing is it! Just wish they would publish the results of the UKTOCS trials they were doing over the last few years. My sister was in the group that had the blood test, I was in the control group which had nothing. I'm going to ask our doctor whether you can pay to have the blood test.

    I do get the All About Eve Newsletter which gives a lot of information about Ovarian cancer. Meanwhile that's great work you're doing.