I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in my twenties
Laura Moses, 28, ovarian cancer patient
In May 2016, I began to experience cramps, bloating that didn’t go away and pelvic pain, and I went to the toilet more and was badly constipated. I looked pregnant and I even had to pull over while driving one day because of stomach cramps. But three different doctors told me that my symptoms had nothing to do with my ovaries, despite knowing that I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation. I was told that I was far too young to be at risk of ovarian cancer, and that it was likely to be irritable bowel syndrome or constipation.
I was told I was too young to have ovarian cancer, even though I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation
When I was eventually transferred to The Royal Marsden and received the diagnosis, beneath all of the anger and pain, I was in some way relieved to finally have an answer. To help me deal with the news, my dad decided we should call the cancer ‘Cyril’.
I can’t explain why, but that made the whole thing feel less frightening. I set up a blog called Finding Cyril to document my experiences, with the aim of raising awareness of the BRCA1 mutation and ovarian cancer, especially in the rare cases where women below the age of 30 are diagnosed.
Under the care of Professor Martin Gore and Mr John Butler, I underwent 18 sessions of chemotherapy and seven hours of radical debulking surgery. I was expected to stay in hospital for three weeks after my operation, but I recovered really quickly and went home after six days. I’m now in remission and having maintenance treatment every three weeks.
All the staff at The Royal Marsden are amazing. They make you feel like a person and not just a cancer patient
To give something back, I’ve been raising money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. The headteacher of the primary school where I’m a teacher organised a My Marsden March with pupils and staff, and I held ‘BRCAfest’ – an evening of food, fun and fundraising.
All the staff at The Royal Marsden are amazing, from the doctors to the lady who does the catering. Every nurse I’ve met has left a mark on me, and I don’t just mean at the site of my cannula! They make you feel like a person and not just a cancer patient – the care they give you is nothing short of incredible.