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Tracey's Story

30 October 2020

~ 3 minutes

Tracey was a fit, healthy and active women, who competed in body building a few months before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Now cancer free for three years, she shares her story. 

"Late June 2017, I was training a client (I did personal training from home) when I felt sick and started to have excruciating pain in my abdomen. I vomited a few times and was unable to continue the session. 

My client left me with my four-and-a-half year old daughter. The pain got worse and I ended up in a ball on the ground, unable to move. My daughter was able to get my phone and ring my husband who was still at work, who then called his Dad. My father in-law arrived to help and after seeing how much pain I was in, called an ambulance. 

I was taken to the Emergency Department at Prince Charles Hospital, where they initially treated me for gall stones. No pain medication they gave me offered any relief. 

After further investigation and an ultrasound they found a large mass on my left ovary. I requested they send me to North West Private Hospital to be under the care of my obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr John Howland. The following morning he completed another ultrasound and discovered a 16cm cyst on my left ovary had ruptured (hence the pain). The cyst had squashed my left ovary.

That same day, I had my first operation to remove the cyst and my left ovary. It wasn't ideal, but I was told I could still have more kids with one ovary so I left hospital to recover in a pretty positive mindset. 

Nearly a week after leaving hospital, Dr Howland rang with the devastating news that they had found cancer in the cyst and that because it had ruptured they couldn't be sure that it hadn't spread elsewhere. I was referred to see an Oncologist and more scans, biopsies and ultrasounds were done. 

A week later, Dr Jim Nicklin rang with the worst outcome. The cancer was in my right ovary, my endometrium and my uterus. At this time I was a stage 4 cancer patient. I needed to have a full hysterectomy at the age of 38. 

Dr Nicklin had also done alot of research regarding the other organs where the cancer may travel to, so my appendix, some lymph nodes and the fatty layer over my stomach were also removed. My choice of having another baby was taken away, and so my chance to see my daughter grow up became my sole focus. 

My operation was a success and somehow my body had developed two primary cancers (ovarian and endometrial) so I came out a stage 1 cancer patient. 

I went home to recover and then late July 2017, I commenced 6 rounds of chemotherapy. I opted to spread the sessions out to every three weeks so that I would be able to feel well enough for a week to do some "normal" things with my family. I completed my chemotherapy early November 2017 and was given the all clear. 

I have now made it to three years cancer free and my markers are currently at their lowest.

I believe that I am proof that cancer does not discriminate. I was at my fittest when all of this unfolded. I had competed in body building the October prior and had no other health issues.

Looking back I can see I had so many of the signs and symptoms that present with ovarian cancer. I was tired all the time, I needed to wee constantly, sex was painful, I felt extremely bloated and I had lower back pain. I feel so grateful for the cyst rupturing and alerting me to my cancer at such an early stage, and believe if it hadn't my story would be so very different. 

An early detection test for ovarian cancer is so desperately needed, so that more women can have a story like mine."

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.