Rachael was diagnosed with ovarian Cancer while pregnant, this is her story

I’m normally pretty good at remembering dates and times of appointments. So when I received my 20 week scan appointment I was excited. “It is 2pm on Tuesday” I told my then husband. I came home from work at lunchtime all excited and ready to go. One final glance at the appointment letter and I realised my mistake. I had mixed up the time of my next midwife appointment with that of the scan. I should have been at the hospital at 11am and had missed it!

Absolutely gutted I quickly phoned the hospital to apologise and see if I could book another appointment in. I remember the lady I spoke to being super helpful and explaining that she had an appointment that I could have but it wouldn’t be based at our, smaller, local hospital but that of a larger hospital a bit further away. A bit annoyed at myself, I didn’t realise that this mistake would be the start of a new journey.

A few days later I turned up, on time, having checked the appointment letter repeatably. We are ushered into the scanning room where I dutifully lie down and lift up my top ready for the scan to begin. We start the process and the gentleman administering the scan tells us that we are having a boy. I am beyond excited! He does all the standard checks and repeatably asks me not to resist the ‘wand’ when trying to get the measurements. I remember thinking, “I’m not resisting I don’t understand”. Nevertheless, he manages to get the measurements and lets us know that everything is in the normal range -phew!

As I’m getting ready to leave … you know coat on, checking to make sure nothing has fallen out type stuff. I can see the sonographer and a couple of other people looking at the images on the screen. Before taking me into another room to say that something didn’t look quite right it was probably a cyst but they needed to be sure. Not thinking much of it an appointment was made for the following week and I went on my way excited to know the sex of my baby.

Again, making sure I checked, double checked, and triple checked the appointment time, I attended the follow up appointment. On arrival I was scanned by a trainee who then got a second opinion. Then they got a third opinion. Who told me that she was pretty confident that it was a tumour and she would making a referral.

Again, I don’t know why but the reality of this didn’t hit me straight away. Other than being tired I had no symptoms. I mean I lived a busy life and was pregnant. Surely being tired was perfectly natural – wasn’t it? Perhaps I was in denial, perhaps I was just naïve, I just assumed that the doctors were just being over cautious and that I’d go to the next appointment and be told it was nothing to worry about – actually it was just a cyst and was no big deal.

After a further appointment and an MRI scan, I remember waiting in the MDT clinic and being called in. There was a nurse in there with the doctor. I sat down and the doctor was polite conversation before informing me that they wanted to operate the following week to remove the tumour and the ovary that it had engulfed.

I was shocked. I mean properly shocked. I was pregnant and they were proposing major surgery?!?! I guess now looking back I honestly believed that all these appointments were to be on the safe side and that nothing was in fact wrong.

I remember the day I was told they wanted to operate. Just before leaving the hospital the nurse told me whatever you do – do not Google for answers. For the most part I didn’t, and I am glad about this. I was however directed to Mummy Star. For someone who likes to know and understand things Mummy Star were brilliant. They provided information and it was reassuring to know that there was a whole community out there that I could reach out to.

I had the surgery and gosh was I sore afterwards! The team did a fantastic job, removing the tumour, ovary and fallopian tube as well as keeping my son inside me! Blessed is an understatement. Subsequently I was told that it was stage 1A. This was the best I could have hoped for.

I guess if I can offer any advice to anyone is don’t be scared to ask questions. There is no such thing as a silly question. For me, asking these questions let me understand the situation more and therefore feel like I knew what was happening.

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