My name is Caitlin. I’m 41 and I currently live in Sydney with my gorgeous husband Kevin, an actor, and my 2 spirited daughters, aged 4 and 6.
2 years ago, I received a diagnosis that turned my life upside down. On the 2/2/17 I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. I was 39, a busy scientist working in a fulfilling job, and happily married with two gorgeous girls aged 2 and 4. I have no obvious history of cancer in my family and was relatively healthy and fit so the diagnosis came as a huge shock. Any symptoms that I had were fairly vague and certainly did not alert me to the fact that I had tumours everywhere.
Upon receiving this diagnosis, I immediately embarked on a gruelling treatment regime and cancer ‘journey’. A cancer diagnosis is scary and devastating at any age. An advanced cancer diagnosis when you have young kids is heartbreaking. Ovarian cancer is also a very lonely diagnosis as there are not many of us out there.
Ovarian cancer is the most deadly but most underfunded womens cancer. The stats are grim. I believe that ovarian cancer needs a voice. There are some amazing women we love out there using their voice. We need to make some noise for ovarian cancer so that we can save women’s lives by earlier detection. We need to increase funding and research so that we can better understand ovarian cancer and thus discover new, better treatments. Breast cancer patients used to face a much poorer prognosis until investment in research improved outcomes.
I also started this blog as I want to help people affected by ovarian cancer. There is no dedicated ovarian cancer support nurse or ovarian cancer specific resources at the hospital upon diagnosis, as opposed to some more common cancers. Whilst there have been some great support services available, my husband and I had to find these ourselves, all whilst reeling from shock. Having cancer with kids, my family also needed extra support and services that were not easy to come by initially.
This blog is for anyone touched by ovarian cancer, for parents with cancer and young kids, and for anyone wanting to know more about this insidious disease and how they can help save womens lives.
My disease in a nutshell:
- I was initially diagnosed with stage 3C high grade serous ovarian cancer but after surgery was regraded to stage 4 clear cell ovarian cancer (a rarer and more deadly kind). However, I believe that I do not have clear cell cancer. Chemo can change the appearance of cancer cells apparently.
- I had weekly chemo for 6 months, both prior to surgery and after surgery. Debulking surgery involved a radical hysterectomy, removal of my omentum and appendix, stripping of my liver, spleen and kidney, and removal of tumours from my diaphragm.
- After finishing treatment in July 2017 I still have no evidence of disease-woohooooooo!!!!!!
- I have been on the maintenance drug Avastin since July 2017.
- I suffer from many side effects from ongoing treatment and have not yet returned to work.