GET SUPPORT GET CONNECTED Your Voices Lizzy What cancer were you diagnosed with? Ovarian Cancer What age were you diagnosed? 27 What has helped you to thrive? Following my diagnosis, the outpouring of love and support I received (and continue to receive) from the solid network of people around me really pulled me through. Being physically active during treatment is also doing wonders for my physical and mental wellbeing. Being able to get out running, to the gym and practise yoga following surgery and even during chemo has shown me just how strong my body and mind really is. It’s helped me to maintain a determined mindset and given me mental clarity in moments of fear and uncertainty. Lizzy's Story My cancer journey began in February 2018 when I went to see my gynaecologist after coming off contraceptive pill. I’d been taking the pill for many years and decided I wanted to take a break from the hormones, and I was curious to see how it would affect my body. After three months of not taking the pill, my period didn’t arrive. At this point, I wasn’t overly concerned, as I assumed my body was still readjusting to the change in hormone levels. Nevertheless, I decided to go and see my gynaecologist to put my mind at ease. She agreed with my suspicion but did an ultrasound to make sure that everything was as it should be. The ultrasound showed a 4 cm cyst on my right ovary. Given my age and the fact that I was fit and healthy, I was assured that it was unlikely to be anything serious and told come back in 3 months time, by which point it should have gone away on its own. Three months later in August 2018, I went back for a second ultrasound. The cyst was still there, only this time it was 5 cm and partially solid. I was told that it was most likely to be benign, but that it would have to be removed surgically because it was now partially solid. The operation was scheduled at the beginning of October and the now 7 cm cyst was removed by key-hole surgery. Various tests were carried out to determine the type of tumour and 12 days post-surgery, I was diagnosed with a granulosa cell tumour - a rare form of ovarian cancer accounting for only 2% of all ovarian cancers. A month later, I had a second operation remove my right ovary and omentum, and biopsies of near-by organs were taken. The biopsies showed signs of the disease on my other ovary and peritoneum, which led to a third operation a few weeks later. I was offered the possibility of fertility treatment before my left ovary was removed, but due to the potential risk of spreading the cancer further during the egg freezing procedure, I decided not to go ahead with this. Doctors removed as much of the disease as possible during the third operation; but I was recommended to undergo chemotherapy to reduce the risk of reoccurance in the future. I began six cycles of chemotherapy (Carboplatin and Paclitaxel), which I finished in May 2019. Looking back, the entire process was a complete whirlwind, and with the seemingly endless hoops I had to jump through, there wasn’t much chance to process what was happening to my body and the severity of the illness. I’m happy to be able to say that I am now “disease-free”, and I’m being kept an eye on at my three-monthly follow-up appointments. It’s only really now that I have finished treatment that I feel as though I can properly reflect on my experience and try to come to terms with it. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing people who are always there to offer support and pick me up when I’m struggling. This incredible network, as well as exercise and fresh air, is invaluable in helping me deal with the illness and it's after effects, and I know that things would be far more difficult otherwise. I’m a British expat living in Berlin, where fewer charities and support groups for young adults with cancer exist. Hearing stories of other young adults going through similar experiences through Trekstock has been unbelievably helpful and succeeded to remind me that I am not alone on this cancer crusade.