Amanda Cawthorn, 43, of the Saxon Gate estate in Biggleswade, visited her doctor after suffering from a persistent cough and tiredness, which was put down to an underactive thyroid.
But she reacted badly to the medication she was given, and when checking her stomach to see why she was suffering from pain, her GP realised something was wrong.
Amanda had a 28cm ovarian cyst and was later diagnosed with stage 2b clear cell ovarian cancer.
She said: “At the time I’d just put the bloating down to putting on weight, or the pain from exercising. I had an explanation in my mind for nearly all the symptoms.”
March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and Amanda is determined to help more women get diagnosed at the early stage of the disease – which could save their life.
I’m trying to get people to help spread news of the symptoms. Until I was diagnosed I didn’t know any of them.Amanda Cawthorn
She is an active supporter of the charity Target Ovarian Cancer and took part in the fundraising Walk for One Million. She also sits on TOCs digital advisory panel, and has launched a twitter account to help spread knowledge of the disease.
She said: “Signing to do Walk for One Million gave me something else to focus on. I’d started my chemotherapy and it took my mind off the side effects, helping me to remain positive knowing that I was doing something.”
More than 580 woman are diagnosed with ovarian cancer a month in the UK, and around 350 will die from the disease.
Target Ovarian Cancer is warning that this serious underestimation of the scale of ovarian cancer is risking women’s lives.
A YouGov poll revealed that 75 per cent of women in the East of England were not confident in spotting the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
And 24 per cent incorrectly believe that cervical screening will detect the disease.
Amanda said: “I’m trying to get people to help spread news of the symptoms. Until I was diagnosed I didn’t know any of them. For ovarian cancer there is no screening and it’s often misdiagnosed as IBS or premenstrual symptoms.”
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, added: “Late diagnosis is an enormous issue for ovarian cancer, with 15 per cent of women dying within two months of diagnosis.”
Amanda finished her chemotherapy in July, and her six month check up showed that she was still cancer free.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer usually happen more than 12 times a month, are persistent and include:
Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating.
Difficulty eating/feeling full.
Pelvic or abdominal pain.
Needing to wee more urgently or more often.
Other symptoms can include unexpected weight loss, change in bowel habits, and extreme fatigue. See your GP if you experience any of these symptoms, which are not normal for you.