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Ovarian Cancer: A Journey with Twists, Turns, and Triumphs!

Jacci Jones before and after

Cancer - it’s a word that can make you go, “Oh F*ck”. Did you know that 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their life? These aren’t some made-up numbers; these are stats from Cancer Research UK. So, we need to talk about it, it’s like flipping a coin. Now, let’s put the spotlight on a sneaky one: Ovarian Cancer. Why is it known as ‘the silent killer?’ Because its signs and symptoms are usually quite subtle and are often mistaken for other less serious conditions. And before you know it, BOOM, it’s progressed to a later stage. (throw in Covid delays like there was at the time I was diagnosed, and it was the perfect timing for it to take hold). But let’s get one thing straight; it’s not all doom and gloom. We can fight back, and it starts with awareness. So, I want to break the silence and spread some awareness around ovarian cancer.

It’s one of those cancers that only us women can get but unlike with other lady bit’s and cancer, unfortunately, there is no reliable routine screening test for ovarian cancer. There is something called a CA 125 protein. Some women with ovarian cancer might have more of this protein floating around in their blood than usual. That sounds like a great way to catch this cancer early, doesn’t it? Well, not so fast. Here’s the catch: this CA-125 level, it can be a bit of a drama queen. It can go up for a whole lot of reasons that have nothing to do with cancer. Got endometriosis? Your CA-125 might be high. Suffering from pelvic inflammatory disease? Yup, that can raise it too. Even something as simple as your period can cause a spike. And here’s the double whammy – not all ovarian cancers decide to send the CA-125 levels on a hike. Some just don’t affect the CA-125 levels that much. So, all in all, while this CA-125 test might sound like a good way to screen for ovarian cancer, it’s kind of like trying to read tea leaves. It’s not always clear, it’s not always accurate, and it’s definitely not the final word on whether someone has ovarian cancer or not.

So what can we do? Prevention first off, it’s essential to have a balanced diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These are chock full of antioxidants, fibres and other goodies that keep your body running smoothly and help it defend against diseases like cancer. In contrast, some things can put you at a higher risk. Consuming a lot of processed food, sugar, and red and processed meats can raise your chances of developing cancer. Processed meats, including staples like bacon and sausages, have been classified as “carcinogenic to humans” (what the actual f*ck) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO). This places them in the same category as substances like tobacco and asbestos, albeit with a much lower relative risk.

Get moving! Exercise is a vital part of the equation. Staying physically active helps maintain a healthy weight, which is an important factor in cancer prevention. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon or anything crazy like that. Knowledge is power, my friends. Unfortunately, as there’s no routine screening for ovarian cancer, it makes knowing the signs and symptoms all the more crucial, so here they are. Let’s BEAT ovarian cancer. B.E.A.T is an acronym used by health professionals to remember the symptoms of ovarian cancer: B - Bloating that’s persistent and doesn’t come and go E - Eating less and feeling fuller A - Abdominal pain T - Toilet changes in bladder and bowel habits My Life, Remixed Post-diagnosis, I did a bit of a life remix. I turned vegan, started loving plants (to eat, not just to water), got into regular exercise, and even tried some quirky things like ice baths. Who knew they could actually be good for you?

Currently, I’m on a ‘watch and wait’ approach, and so far, it’s thumbs up! I’ve also met some amazing people along the way. Being a psychotherapist, I’m all about that mental health goodness. Choosing Laughter and Strength Whether you're a yoga bunny, a pottery pro, or an ABBA superfan (no judgment here!), do what makes your heart happy. Faced with ovarian cancer or any of life's curve balls, we can either bury our heads in the sand or dance in the rain. I chose to dance! We’re all a bit more superhero than we think. Here’s to embracing life’s journey, the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

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