What are the signs of ovarian cancer?
The 28-year-old first raised concerns six years prior, reporting she was in pain, and was suffering from bladder and bowel issues. Mum Paula, 52, said: “Jess was constantly going to the doctors; it got to the point where she felt like everything was in her head and she was being over-dramatic.”
While Paula suspected polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), doctors eventually suspected gallstones.
Jess was booked in to have her gallbladder surgically removed at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in February, 2023.
“But when it came down to the surgery, they found her gallbladder was fine,” Paula continued to the Liverpool Echo.
Instead, the surgeons found a low-grade, slow-growing cancer that turned the mum and daughter’s lives upside down.
“It hit us like a sledgehammer,” said Paula. “When I saw her and she said she had cancer, I just screamed.”
Jess was diagnosed with an incurable stage three ovarian cancer and is currently undergoing treatment.
Having had her first round of chemotherapy at Halton General Hospital, Jess must undergo several more rounds.
Paula felt, as a mother, she wanted to protect her daughter by throwing her arms around Jess and saying it’s going to be alright, but she couldn’t offer that reassurance.
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“It’s treatable, but not curable,” Paula revealed. “It’s gone too far. It’s gone under the liver, by her bowel, and right across her abdomen. It’s like a moss that slowly grows.”
Paula and Jess are unaware of how much time they have left together.
Doctors said that some patients have been treated for 30 to 40 years, but Jess’s future is uncertain.
“I try to put it to the back of my mind as if it’s not happening, but it is happening. It’s real,” Paula shared.
Right now, Jess is unable to walk very far because of the pain she is in, which is starting to impact her mental health.
Jess is no longer able to work due to her illness, which has entrenched her dark feelings.
Paula admitted that it’s all getting to her now that Jess can’t do much.
Since the tragedy has rocked their whole family unit, Paula wants other young women to fight for themselves if they feel as though something is wrong.
“Do not give in. Do not let yourself think it’s all in your head, that you’re being over-dramatic,” said Paula.
“You’ve got to keep fighting because there are too many cases of people being diagnosed too late.”
Experiencing guilt, Paula shared: “I’m more angry at myself now because I was one of those people who thought she was being overly anxious.
“And now she’s been diagnosed with cancer that’s spread through her body.”
There is now a fundraiser to help support Jess while she undergoes cancer treatment.
Ovarian cancer symptoms, as pointed out by the NHS:
- A swollen tummy or feeling bloated
- Pain or tenderness in your tummy or the area between the hips (pelvis)
- No appetite or feeling full quickly after eating
- An urgent need to pee or needing to pee more often
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Back pain
- Feeling tired all the time
- Losing weight without trying
- Bleeding from the vagina after the menopause.
If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your GP.
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