I thought I was just lactose intolerant – then I found out I had ovarian cancer… don’t dismiss the signs | The Sun

WHEN Chloe Spitalnic began experiencing on-and-off stomach cramps, she put it down to being lactose intolerant.

But the 22-year-old was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which left her terrified she was going to die.

Chloe told 7NEWS: "I couldn’t stop crying.

"I instantly feared that I was dying."

The "fit and healthy" student, from Melbourne, Australia, now wants to educate others on the "vague" signs of the condition, which killed 207,252 people worldwide in 2020, according to the Global Cancer Observatory.

In August 2020, Chloe had just started a Master's degree in human resource management when she noticed a minor pain in her tummy that would come and go.


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As someone who experiences similar symptoms when she consumes dairy or fructose (fruit sugar), Chloe brushed it off.

But as her discomfort worsened and she felt a sharp, shooting pain while breathing in and out, she began to panic.

After a trip to the doctor and subsequent tests in hospital, she was eventually told she had stage three ovarian cancer, meaning it had spread to outside the pelvis.

Doctors found three large cancerous cysts around her ovaries and Chloe underwent emergency surgery to remove them five days later.

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Due to Covid lockdowns at the time, she went through the ordeal alone.

It took Chloe eight weeks to recover from the operation, after which she had to relearn how to walk.

"I was in immense pain when just laughing or sneezing," she said.

Chloe then completed four rounds of chemotherapy, followed by another small keyhole surgery.

Three years on, Chloe's life is thankfully almost back to normal.

But the "high likelihood" of her cancer returning remains a constant fear.

The now-25-year-old, who has regular check-ups and takes a daily pill to lower the chances of that happening, wants people to be aware of the warning signs so no one else has to go through the same agony she did.

"My symptom was very vague and easily dismissed," she said.

"Women need to know and understand their bodies, so when abnormalities like a simple pain arise, they can go seek assistance."

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

OVARIAN cancer mostly affects women over the age of 50, but it can be diagnosed at any age.

The main symptoms are:

  • A swollen tummy or feeling bloated
  • Pain or tenderness in your tummy or pelvis
  • No appetite or feeling full quickly after eating
  • Needing to wee more often

But other signs of the condition include:

  • Indigestion
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Back pain
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bleeding from the vagina after the menopause

The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age, with more than half of all cases in the UK in women aged 65 and over.

But you also have a higher chance if you inherited a faulty gene, have had breast or bowel cancer, have endometriosis or diabetes, started your periods at a young age or went through the menopause after 55, have never used hormonal contraception, are taking hormone replacement therapy, you are overweight and if you smoke.

Treatment plans depend on the size and type of ovarian cancer, but primarily involve surgery and chemotherapy.

There are around 4,100 ovarian cancer deaths in the UK every year.

Source: NHS and Cancer Research UK

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