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KRISTIE'S STORY

"I was missing out on so much of her first year, it was heart-breaking."



Kristie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during the COVID lockdown, when her daughter was just 6 months old.
This is her story...


Diagnosis


Having suffered from persistent bloating since the birth of her baby girl, which she assumed was a post-pregnancy belly and lockdown weight gain, Kristie eventually visited A&E to have it checked.


A CT scan revealed a large mass on her right ovary but she was told it was a dermoid cyst, 98% of which are benign. She was sent home to wait for an appointment to have it removed.


"I thought they were going to say I had a stomach muscle issue or something, never in a million years did I dream I had this coming."


Later that day, she received a phone call to come straight back to the hospital. The cyst had burst and more scans and tests revealed it was a rare form of ovarian cancer. She needed surgery immediately. Within hours of being diagnosed, she was in theatre having her damaged ovary and the burst cyst removed.


Kristie was just 29 and had a six-month-old baby at home.


"Everything happened so fast, I went in hospital and five days later I had cancer.


I felt like I was suffocating, terrified I was going to die and leave my daughter without a mother. It was like a bad dream.


Because of COVID restrictions, nobody could be with me and having to phone Micah (my partner) and my family with the news was awful."





Treatment


A month later, in early August, Kristie started nine weeks of chemotherapy on an intensive course of treatment that meant spending five days in hospital every three weeks.


"It was so grueling. I was sick and lost my hair, but the worst part was spending at least five nights away from my family, who weren’t allowed to visit.


I’d Facetime Louisa, but knew I was missing out on so much of her first year, it was heart-breaking. She’d babble at the camera, or I’d watch Micah feeding her and I ached to hold her in my arms.


All I wanted to do is rip my drip out and run away, especially when I was already feeling so ill and knew having the treatment was going to make me feel worse.”


Cut off from the world in her hospital bed, Kristie felt so alone. She even spent her 30th birthday in hospital, hooked up to an IV. She believes the whole experience would have been a lot easier to manage if she could have had some company, but instead it was very scary and isolating.



Mummy's Star Magic


During treatment, Kristie found Mummy’s Star and reached out to us for support. She was connected with an Information and Support Worker, joined the Mums' Peer Support Forum and applied for a small grant to help with travel and parking costs at the hospital.


"Having a Support Worker to talk to on the phone helped me to process things, and it was nice to have someone who really understands!


The Forum was an absolute life-saver at times. Having a connection to people who had already been through what I was about to go through.


There was one time in particular, when I was told I needed to have a blood transfusion. I was so scared about what this meant and I reached out to the group; everyone was just so lovely and reassuring!


Without my Support Worker and without that group who would I have talked to? There would have been no one.”





Recovery


Kristie finished her chemotherapy in October and later that month had the best possible news: there was no evidence of the disease in her body and she received the all clear.


But it doesn't change the huge impact that her cancer diagnosis and treatment had on her experience as a first-time mum.


"This year was meant to be all about being a new mum, maternity leave and watching Louisa grow. I was not meant to be fighting for my life amid a global pandemic.


I was so weak and tired that it was hard to care for my own baby. It was nothing like the maternity leave I’d planned.


It’s still sinking in that in just twelve months I became a mum, was diagnosed with cancer and beat it, all against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic.


There was a time I feared I wouldn’t be here to see Louisa reach her first birthday or celebrate the festive season with her and Micah. To be here and healthy feels wonderful.”




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