‘Sadly my mother died of ovarian cancer’, Judith says. ‘So after a routine smear test came up with some abnormal findings, I was keen to get it looked at straight away.’
She went to a local centre, where after an ultrasound and CT scan doctors diagnosed an ovarian mass and a lesion in her bladder.
Surgeons added she would urgently need major open surgery with a hysterectomy, her bladder investigated with possible surgery, and potentially chemotherapy. Faced with a huge operation, Judith was overwhelmed.
“It just seemed so drastic. One day I was fine, and the next I was being told I potentially had a life threatening illness.”
With time of the essence, Judith and her husband Doug wanted to get a second expert opinion to make sure they were going down the right route.
“You just want to know exactly what you’re dealing with, and have some peace of mind that it’s the right thing to do,” Doug says. “Of course we trusted our clinicians. But it can be hard to think clearly after having such a shock to the system.”
Two days before her scheduled operation, Judith spoke to the team at The Royal Marsden.
“The Second Opinion team were just brilliant – doing everything they could to help us. Having someone who could coordinate everything was so helpful, especially considering what I was going through at the time,” she says.
Within a day she had spoken to Mr John Butler, a leading consultant surgeon who specialises in gynaecological oncology. After finding out what her treatment had been so far, Mr Butler advised Judith to have further investigation to make sure they were 100% certain that major surgery was needed.
“With the timeframe we had, we knew we were taking a leap of faith. But having that conversation with a renowned specialist surgeon gave us such confidence, and the clarity we so desperately needed.”
Transferred to The Royal Marsden, Judith had an MRI scan which showed nothing in the bladder, and some benign cysts on one of her ovaries. With her family history, she was advised to have minor keyhole surgery to remove ovaries and her fallopian tubes.
Judith adds: “Reflecting now, those two months were a complete roller-coaster. Thankfully I had a really positive outcome.”
We call Mr Butler our superhero! Without him and The Royal Marsden my life –our lives – could have been completely different.