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A student has warned young women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer after she developed the disease as a teenager.
Becky Brothwood, originally from Fazakerley in Liverpool, spoke out at the start of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
The 20 year-old was diagnosed two years ago and received chemotherapy treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Merseyside.
Becky first sought medical advice after developing a swollen tummy and needing to urinate frequently. She initially suspected she might be pregnant and a test was positive due to the hormones present in her body. She was also suffering bouts of severe pain and bleeding.
A scan identified a mass in her left ovary and it was removed during surgery. The tumour was grade 1 ovarian cancer.
Becky said: “When I was told I had cancer I felt numb and my ears were ringing. You don’t think you will ever get that news or have to tell people you have cancer.”
Becky was 18 at the time and a student at St Helen’s College. She returned to her studies two weeks after surgery and during her treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre continued to work towards her exams.
She was treated in The Teenage and Young Adults Unit at the specialist cancer hospital in Wirral.
Becky said: “The staff at Clatterbridge couldn’t have been nicer. Before my treatment started I came to look round and everyone was so positive.
“Everyone will be affected by cancer, either themselves or a family member or friend. Clatterbridge is the most amazing hospital.”
Becky had her chemotherapy administered by specialist staff over nine weeks and remained upbeat throughout.
She said: “When they told me I was going to lose my hair I knew I had to take control. So I shaved it off and sent it away to be made into wigs for other people who lose their hair.”
She is now a student at Bangor University in North Wales and keen to pursue a career in the charity sector when she graduates. For now she is determined to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, particularly among young women, and is planning to go back to her old school to talk to pupils about the disease.
She said: “I want to spread the word, make people aware of the symptoms and the fact you can get ovarian cancer when you are young.”
John Green, Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said: “Cancer can strike at any age, although rarer in young women. It is important to report any change in body image, in particular swelling or bloating of the tummy, to your doctor.
“While unusual urgency to pass water or pain may be due to something quite simple, if these persist or recur you should seek medical advice.”
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