“In six months, I’ve gone from being told my treatment was palliative to being told I’m now in remission,” she said. “My fight isn’t over, but I’m giving it everything I have. I feel amazing – I feel alive. There’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to make you sit up and listen to your body.” – Rachel
Rachel from Auckland was diagnosed with stage 3 clear cell ovarian cancer in 2021 at age 48.
“I had regular Pap smears and mammograms, and no one ever mentioned ovarian cancer. I was active, training at the gym three times a week, walking the dog four kilometres a day and completing my post-grad at Massey University.”
But then she developed deep vein thrombosis and was put on blood thinners.
“I googled DVT causes, and of course there are many possible reasons, cancer being one. I dismissed it thinking it won’t be cancer.”
A few months later, she had painful stomach cramps and could feel a lump in her belly. “I could grab it like a baseball.”
Her doctor ordered a blood test, and after that things moved quickly. CT scans, chest X-rays and a biopsy of the fluid in her stomach revealed that she had ovarian cancer.
Two weeks later, she had complete debulking, and her surgeon was confident that she got it all. Five weeks after surgery, Rachel started chemotherapy. She stopped drinking, cut out coffee and sugar, and changed to a plant-based diet.
Rachel’s advice to women is to “know the warning signs, trust your gut and don’t put off seeing your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. We need to talk about ovarian cancer.”
We are grateful to Rachel for sharing her experience with ovarian cancer and for helping us raise awareness. If you would like to share your story too, please get in touch.
OCFNZ started as Cure Our Ovarian Cancer in 2018, with a focus on low-grade serous ovarian cancer. In 2020, we expanded our focus to include all ovarian cancer and, in 2024, we changed our name to the Ovarian Cancer Foundation New Zealand.