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Julie's Story

04 May 2020

~ 3 minutes

It was early 2016 when Julie started to feel tired all the time. Life was busy. She was 48 and living a busy life working in HR and Compliance and renovating her house on the weekends.

Julie also had a few food issues and a low appetite. She was eating smaller and smaller meals because she would feel full quickly, however the only symptom bothering her was the constant tiredness. Julie saw her GP and was diagnosed with Hashimoto Disease. She started thyroid replacement hormones and had three monthly blood tests.

A year into receiving treatment for Hashimoto Disease, Julie’s GP noticed her red and white cell counts had started to rise quickly so she was sent to a Hematologist to check on the counts. The Hematologist was not that concerned by the blood levels but decided to do a CT Scan and chest x-ray. The CT Scan found a cyst near her pancreas.

“I was sent to three surgeons to have the cyst removed. An endoscopic biopsy was performed first and from the fluid samples taken, it was discovered that I had Stage 3C ovarian cancer as well as cancer in the lymph nodes, near my pancreas and liver.”

I was in shock. I did not feel unwell or even sick. I was only tired and as a 48 year old woman that had been through a stressful few years, I believed my tiredness was due to this and the Hashimoto Disease I had been diagnosed with previously. I was very scared about what was coming."

Five days later, Julie was in the chemo chair receiving her first infusion.

“The oncology nurses are angels. They stayed close, answered every one of the questions that crept into my mind and kept me as calm as is possible in a horrible situation.”

What followed next was difficult surgeries and the removal of the node in her chest and a hysterectomy.

Julie was then told her cancer had been upgraded to Stage 4.

“This is the only journey I have been on when an upgrade has been a really bad thing.”

Julie underwent five surgeries throughout her treatment, and remarkably continued to work full time throughout all of this. “I was a single woman and needed to continue to earn an income. It was hard but I was determined not to let cancer ruin my life.”

Life for Julie has changed completely.

It has just been over 24 months since the end of Julie’s treatment and she is experiencing fatigue and pain from neuropathy.

My outlook on life is more appreciative and I have used my time recuperating to develop a small fundraising business called Cancer Warrior Australia."

"I make gifts for cancer patients and donate the profits from the sale of these items to cancer research. It is my way of giving back to the amazing medical team that saved my life and it is also very healing emotionally for me.”

Acknowledgement flags

Ovarian Cancer Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where our office is located, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation and we pay our respects to Elders past and present.