Following three years of trying to fall pregnant, 23-year-old hair stylist Danielle Golding received the shocking news she had stage three cancerous tumours, and her surgery triggered the menopause – while only in her twenties.
Danielle, who is now 25, received her shocking diagnosis came in August 2015, after years of often excruciatingly painful periods, shattering her dream of having a baby naturally with her engineer partner Niall O’Reilly, now 28.
To remove her cancerous tumours, which she said were the size of ‘watermelons’, Danielle had to have her ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed as well. The drop in oestrogen triggered the menopause, and she said she suffered from ‘hot sweats, suffered headaches – you name it.’
‘It was very difficult, going through the menopause in your early 20s,’she said.
Following three years of trying unsuccessfully to fall pregnant, 23-year-old hair stylist Danielle received the shocking news she had stage three cancerous tumours as big as watermelons on both ovaries
Danielle Golding’s shocking diagnosis came in August 2015, after years of often excruciatingly painful periods, shattering her dream of having a baby naturally with her engineer partner Niall O’Reilly, now 28, pictured
Recalling how she was told she had ovarian cancer which, while it is the sixth most common cancer in women in the UK and is mostly found in women over 65, Danielle said: ‘Of course, I was terrified. I didn’t know what it was – but it did explain why I couldn’t fall pregnant.’
‘I was just 23 and it was such a blow’
Danielle first went to Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital after her mum, Waitrose manager Nicola, 43, saw her ‘bent double,’ walking down the street.
It was initially feared she had appendicitis, a swelling of the appendix, but this was soon ruled out and she was put on the waiting list for an MRI scan.
Meanwhile, blood test results indicated that she had tumour markers – substances that are produced by cancer, or by other cells of the body in response to cancer – in her blood.
Eager to find out exactly what was wrong, Danielle’s cable joiner dad, Paul, 47, paid for her to have a private MRI scan at the Churchill Hospital – part of the Oxford Centre for Cancer and Haematology.
There, in August 2015, it emerged she had two huge tumours on both her ovaries, which she described as ‘being the size of watermelons.’
Danielle, who had prior to this seen a GP about her fertility, who had believed everything to be fine, was then referred to the NHS, although she was still a patient at the Churchill Centre.
And in September, a biopsy taken from the tumours indicated they were stage three benign ovarian cancer. This meant the disease had not spread beyond her ovaries.
‘I couldn’t believe it,’ she said. ‘I was just 23 and it was such a blow, especially when I learnt that the treatment was to have my ovaries removed.’
This grave revelation meant she could not have children naturally with her partner-of-seven-years, Niall, who she met at school in Reading.
In August 2015, it emerged she had two huge tumours on both her ovaries, which she described as ‘being the size of watermelons’
Thankfully, in September, a biopsy taken from the tumours indicated they were stage three benign ovarian cancer: this meant the disease had not spread beyond her ovaries.
‘I longed to be a mum, so this was absolutely devastating, particularly as they said the surgery was so urgent, there was no opportunity for medics to harvest any of my eggs,’ Danielle said, here pictured with her father
She said: ‘I longed to be a mum, so this was absolutely devastating, particularly as they said the surgery was so urgent, there was no opportunity for medics to harvest any of my eggs.’
‘It was very difficult, going through the menopause in your early 20s’
During a six-hour operation in October 2015 at the Churchill Hospital, her fallopian tubes, ovaries and the enormous tumours were removed.
Off work until January 2016, because she was no longer producing eggs, despite being in her 20s, she entered the menopause.
‘It was very difficult, going through the menopause in your early 20s,’ explained Danielle. ‘I woke up with hot sweats, suffered headaches – you name it, it happened.
Now 25 and cancer free, she is speaking out as part of March’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Set to have a free round of IVF on the NHS later this year, when a donor egg will be implanted with Niall’s sperm, before being inserted into Danielle’s womb, she said: ‘My partner is incredible and has been my rock.
‘I don’t know how I could have got through the last few years without him by my side.
‘We’re hoping to be able to have a baby through IVF in 2018.
‘Now I want to share my story to encourage women at any age, with symptoms that don’t feel right, to go to their GP immediately.’
Jo Stanford, cancer prevention officer at Ovarian Cancer Action, who supported Danielle, throughout her illness, explained how symptoms of the disease are often mistaken for other conditions.
She said: ‘Symptoms of ovarian cancer are often mistaken for symptoms of less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
‘Regular experience of the following could be a symptom of ovarian cancer, if you’re worried, speak to your GP.
‘The symptoms are persistent stomach pain; persistent bloating; difficulty eating/feeling full more quickly and needing to wee more frequently.’
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER?
The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly early on.
They’re often the same as symptoms of less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Feeling constantly bloated
- A swollen tummy
- Discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
- Feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
- Needing to pee more often or more urgently than normal
Other symptoms can include:
- Persistent indigestion or nausea
- Pain during sex
- A change in your bowel habits
- Back pain
- Vaginal bleeding – particularly bleeding after the menopause
- Feeling tired all the time
- Unintentional weight loss
When to see your GP
See your GP if:
- You’ve been feeling bloated most days for the last three weeks
- You have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that won’t go away – especially if you’re over 50 or have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, as you may be at a higher risk
It’s unlikely you have cancer, but it’s best to check. Your GP can do some simple tests.
Source: NHS Choices