Sarah Nicholson (pictured), of Cochrane Park, Newcastle, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer
A woman has told of her battle with ovarian cancer after two large tumours were found in her body – one the size of a rugby ball.
Sarah Nicholson, of Cochrane Park, Newcastle, was diagnosed with the disease – which primarily affects people over 50 – at the age of just 25.
Her stomach had bloated and she had symptoms including abdominal pain, constant tiredness, feeling full quickly and a change in her toilet habits.
It was initially thought she may have irritable bowel syndrome but scans later revealed two tumours in her ovary.
One was 10lbs, the size of a rugby ball, and the other was as big as an orange at 4lbs.
Miss Nicholson had surgery to remove the tumours and also made the heartbreaking decision to have a full hysterectomy, which means she will not be able to have children.
Now aged 26, she is undergoing chemotherapy and is determined to beat the cancer.
Sarah said: ‘I had symptoms which could have been of things less serious, like irritable bowel syndrome.
‘But I had a round bloated stomach, which looked as if I was pregnant, and I knew it was just not right.’
She visited her GP, and tests and scans were carried out. And when the tumours were discovered, she was given the dreadful news she had stage three cancer.
‘I had prepared myself for bad news,’ added Sarah. ‘But it does not take away from the fact that I was absolutely devastated. Part of me crumbled inside.
‘The other part was kind of relieved that I had a diagnosis.
‘They said I was at stage three – that’s one stage away from being terminal. This was really serious and I knew it was going to affect my future.
‘I had meetings to discuss what I could do next and to talk about my fertility. I was asked if I wanted to have a hysterectomy.
‘For me it was a no brainer and I decided to have it. I did not want the risk.
‘It was a difficult decision to make and it was upsetting because it would mean I would never have children of my own.
Miss Nicholson had surgery to remove the tumours and also made the heartbreaking decision to have a full hysterectomy, which means she will not be able to have children
‘But it was to give me a better chance of life. It was the right thing for me to do.’
Sarah is now urging other young people to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
She said: ‘This is something that normally affects people aged over 50.
‘But it clearly can happen to younger people which is why I feel so strongly about getting the message out to younger women. There’s not enough known about it.
‘I would ask people to listen to your body, You know your body best and if you think something is not right, get it checked out.
‘Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” because the symptoms are often put down to less severe medical issues.’
According to the NHS, the risk of ovarian cancer increases as you get older, with most cases occurring after the menopause.
About eight in every 10 cases are diagnosed in women over 50. But hundreds of younger women also suffer from the disease.
The Eve Appeal charity says more than 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually and 1,000 women under the age of 50 are diagnosed with it every year.