Leane Flynn is a 51 year old mother of 3 girls and married to Justin.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April 2017 and the diagnosis was a complete surprise because she was in good health and had no obvious symptoms. Leane had been for her usual gynaecological check-up early in 2017 and received a healthy result from the PAP smear and breast examination. There was some bloating and the need to urinate frequently – which was attributed to menopause. The doctor was convinced Leane was menopausal but did recommend a blood test and ultrasound just to confirm this diagnosis.
The scan revealed a large tumour growing on each ovary and another tumour growing between Leane’s diaphragm and liver. The CA125 blood test result of 800+ (the “normal” range is anything under 35) was further proof that she had ovarian cancer. Subsequent surgery confirmed it was Stage 3C advanced ovarian cancer.
Managing and maintaining her health has always been a priority for Leane. She was unaware that ovarian cancer was not detected via her usual check-ups and had no idea of the possible symptoms. Sometimes Leane thinks back to before she was diagnosed and tries to recall when she first noticed the bloating and how things could have worked out differently had she done something about it then, or better still if it could have been detected before she even had symptoms. Her prognosis would have undoubtedly been better and instead of going through extensive debulking surgery followed by 6 months of chemotherapy – she may have simply had a hysterectomy and got on with her life.
An early detection test would have allowed her to do this.
Unfortunately Leane’s story doesn’t finish there because in April 2018 the cancer returned. Ovarian cancer has a very high recurrence rate when diagnosed in the later stages (which is when most women are diagnosed). In March Leane noticed some pain in her abdomen and was immediately sent for a blood test and ultrasound. The results showed a small mass in Leane’s stomach and her CA125 results reflected a sudden rise indicating cancerous activity. Thankfully because Leane was aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer she was able to identify them and see her doctor immediately. Her second round of Chemotherapy sessions were completed at the end of last year and were successful in removing the cancer.
This story is an on-going one, which unfortunately is quite common for ovarian cancer, because there was another recurrence 4 months after Leane finished treatment in October 2018. A third round of chemotherapy commenced in March 2019 with the hope that once again they will achieve no evidence of disease and remission will last longer this time.
Currently the only option for treatment is chemotherapy because there has not been enough research into finding alternative treatment options. Leane continues to work with the OCRF as an Ambassador with the hope that by raising awareness there will be an early detection test and many treatment options for all the women like her.