Ovarian cancer patient, Virginia Emmings, opens up about her experience with ovarian cancer to mark World Ovarian Cancer Day yesterday (8 May).
Ovarian cancer is the least survivable gynaecological cancer, affecting over 300,000 women every year worldwide. With no available screening programme to detect it, it can often be diagnosed late.
Knowing the symptoms can save your life.
Virginia experienced bloating for a few months and became breathless walking up the stairs. She sought medical advice and after having a Chest Xray, was told by her GP to go to A&E urgently, due to the excess water in her lungs. After further tests she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.
She said: “I could not believe it, since there is no history of cancer in my family.”
During chemotherapy treatment, Virginia experienced a mini-stroke (TIA), Shingles and neuropathy in her fingers and toes due to the side effects of the treatment. Then she had surgery and more chemotherapy.
She said: "I have a fear of needles so throughout my treatment I needed a nurse to hold my hand while the cannula was being inserted.”
Virginia was touched by the kindness of the staff who provided her treatment, and recalled a special moment, saying: “When I was being prepped for surgery, I asked the anaesthetist for a nurse to hold my hand before he puts me out. His words were ‘I’ll hold your hand.’ Those words were so reassuring and a comfort for me to hear at the time.”
Virginia thanks her cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, Fiona Thompson, who supported her throughout her treatment, saying:“Fiona was there for me during a difficult time of anguish, worry, and uncertainty in my life. She was always available to answer my questions or concerns and so I am truly grateful to her.”
Along with Fiona, Virginia had support from her husband and children. She said: “When my hair fell out, I wore wigs in front of my grandchildren as I didn’t want to alarm them because they are so young. Seeing their four beautiful little faces helped me get through everything.”
Virginia is in remission and now back at work as a Learning and Development Administrator. She has a message of thanks for the teams who treated her, saying:
“I would like to thank all the clinical and medical staff at Royal Surrey who contributed to my diagnosis, care and treatment and a special thank you to all the nurses and healthcare assistants who held my hand.
“I didn't think I'd be here today, but now I am looking forward to watching my grandchildren grow and celebrate 40 years of marriage with my husband next year.”