Posted on Tuesday 4 January 2022

Laura’s story: “They didn’t know what to do with me but knew I had to go to Hospital straight away”

Within one week, Laura’s stomach had grown so much her Mum said she looked nine months pregnant. With no other symptoms, Laura and her Mum were confused why she had suddenly built up so much fluid.

Her stomach had built up so much that Laura was in severe pain and couldn’t eat. Alarmed, Laura got a telephone appointment during October half term. The doctors thought it may be constipation but when the laxatives didn’t do anything, Laura went in for an in-person appointment.

“The doctor said to straight away go to Basingstoke Hospital – go to the Surgical ward not even the A&E. They phoned ahead for me, they didn’t know what to do with me but knew I had to go to hospital straight away.”

Laura’s Mum remembers the young doctor not being able to look her in the eye, and she knew right then something was wrong.

“They ended up putting a drain in, so I was there for 4 days, they drained off most of the fluid, 12 litres initially (21 litres in total). They told me they thought it was cancer but they didn’t tell me anything about the specifics.”

After four days in Basingstoke hospital, Laura was transferred to Southampton where she was introduced to the surgical team. That’s when it was confirmed to her; she had ovarian cancer.

Laura was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after her stomach ballooned to look 'nine months pregnant'

The doctors offered fertility preservation but she was advised not to have it since they thought the hormones would make her tumour worse. At 17, Laura had to face potentially being infertile.

On November 25 2019, Laura had surgery to remove her left ovary and a nodule from the pouch of Douglas. After surgery, she then went through four rounds of chemotherapy over 12 weeks at Southampton hospital.

Laura was in and out of hospital until March 2020, just before the country went into lockdown.

Having to face cancer at a young age is hard. As well as her diagnosis and hospital stays, Laura had to face being away from her friends, missing school as well as the side effects of the treatment she was on.

“It’s probably knocked my confidence quite a lot, I think it was hard to make a lot of choices, it leads you wondering if you have made the right choices. I just took the doctor’s advice. I am probably more stressed than I was before as I don’t have any answers and no one has any answers to give me.”

From the moment of her diagnosis, Young Lives vs Cancer social worker Julia was there to help Laura find the strength to face her cancer.

“She used to come and see me in hospital to see how I was doing and chat to me and my mum. She would also call me when I was at home. She was really good at pointing me in the direction of different resources i.e. counsellors, she was lovely.”

Laura is now in remission and doing well. She is studying Music Technology at Nottingham Trent university.

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