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​Women’s Health Check

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Our community means the world to us. When Monica reached out with her incredible story of strength, we just had to share it with you all.

A reminder that life is precious and making time for moments of self-care is more important than ever.

Without further ado, here is Monica’s story.

2017 was going to be my year!

I had started a new job but was a little tired, who isn't? I was aiming to lose weight for my next round of IVF. I was getting my steps up and thought my hard work was paying off.

I was constipated (too much info, I know, but there is context). I had a sore lower back - I had an issue with my coccyx the year prior. I thought it was part of that.

In early March, I remember feeling like I had a UTI. The next day I went to the doctors, and they thought maybe I might have kidney stones. I had an ultrasound, and they found a 10cm cyst on my right ovary.

Two weeks later, I had an operation and was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. My GP told me that the pain in my coccyx was the cyst hitting it. Fortunately, I was diagnosed early.

All the symptoms I have described are symptoms of ovarian cancer. Pretty vague, aren't they?

Some of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

- Feeling fatigued
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Changes in bowel habits
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Appetite loss or feeling full quickly
- Lower back pain
- Urinary changes such as frequency or urgency

At the time, I wrote a lot of the symptoms off as nothing, and they all seemed to be a normal part of life. Tell me, have you or the women in your life experienced these symptoms?

The reality is that I was one of the lucky ones. I was diagnosed early, and I underwent surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy. Most women, however, are diagnosed in the later stages, and less than half of the women diagnosed will survive beyond five years.

Ovarian Cancer also has a high rate of recurrence, so even though these women may have had successful treatment, for many, the cancer returns within 18 months.

That's why I'm fundraising for the Gynaecological Oncology team at Westmead Institute of Medical Research (WIMR) and participated in research trials run by this fantastic team.

There is no early detection. A Pap smear only looks at cervical cancer, and I had one a couple of months earlier, and it came back fine. Being younger, 43 at the time of diagnosis, I feel compelled to raise awareness and funds for research for early detection.

Please listen to your bodies. Early detection is essential to my story. I want it to be

vital for you too!

As women, we tend to put everyone else’s health above our own. We ensure our loved ones eat well, our grandparents attend checkups, our partners get time to work out and make sure laundry is folded before we begin to think about ourselves.

Monica’s story is a gentle reminder to look after yourself.

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