A primary school teacher who thought she was going through menopause was devastated to learn she had ovarian cancer.
Emma Durkin was diagnosed with the condition, known as the ‘silent killer’, after suffering almost none of the symptoms. The 48-year-old, who lives in West Denton, Newcastle, has now had major surgery to remove the cancer and will soon start chemotherapy.
The mother-of-two said when her periods became irregular she thought she was going through menopause. She began to suffer and was told that she had an abscess on her right ovary which needed to be drained.
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Doctors at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) also found a cyst on her left ovary and removed them during surgery. They also did a biopsy during the procedure which revealed she had ovarian cancer.
Emma, who is mum to Laura, 30, and Daniel, 27, said: “It was a huge shock. I didn’t expect it, it was completely out of the blue. I had never heard of ovarian cancer.
“I was always up to date with my smear tests and I thought they would pick up anything there, but they don’t. Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because it is really hard to find.
“Three specialists looked at my scans and none of them found cancer. I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for the biopsy. I would have continued not knowing and thinking that I was going through menopause.”
Emma visited A&E for the first time in Newcastle Hospital on January 7 after experiencing a sharp pain in her stomach which prevented her from moving. She had an MRI and was told she had an ovarian abscess and was given antibiotics.
Four months later, on May 17, she began to suffer from left kidney pain. Emma returned to the hospital where she had another MRI scan and was told the abscess had returned and was wrapped around her kidney and intestine. Three days later, she underwent keyhole surgery to remove the abscess, a cyst and do a biopsy.
Emma has been asked to return to the hospital on June 1 so they can talk to her face to face. She said: “The consultant asked me how I was doing. He just said I’m really sorry to tell you that you have cancer. One of the first things I asked the doctor was:” Am I going to die? and he couldn’t answer, I was terrified.
“I had a meeting with my consultant and she was brilliant, she explained everything to me. She told me that they weren’t expecting it. None of the specialists had looked at the scans and did not had seen. I’m lucky they caught it early.”
Emma, who is also grandmother to five-year-old Zak, three-year-old Daisy and two-year-old Violet, underwent further surgery to remove the cancer on July 4. She underwent a hysterectomy to remove her uterus and the surgeons also removed some of her lymph. knots and his stomach muscle.
The first grade teacher, who was left with a 40cm stomach injury, said: “I think everyone thinks of cancer as if you were bad without hair. You never hear, or tend to see, the surgery side of it I had 44 staples in my stomach and I was really sick When I was in the hospital I almost gave up it was just horrible.
“The nurses are amazing as is the consultant who did the surgery – he basically saved my life. They are worth their weight in gold. I had a scan on August 22nd to see if they removed all the cancer.
“There are spots around my gut, but the chemo is going to kill it. I’ve had six rounds of chemo and I’m absolutely terrified. I’m going to have it until New Years.”
So far Emma has described her cancer diagnosis as a ‘huge roller coaster’, but says she has received a lot of support from family, friends, colleagues and the children’s parents. which she teaches. She said: “I think I’ve gotten stronger over time.
“I want to get better, get back to work and go on vacation. I want to do everything I set out to do. I’m going to have a totally different outlook on life once I get over this and beat this.
“I just think people have no idea about ovarian cancer. I just want people to be aware. It’s a silent killer and it kills women. , go get them checked out. If you think something is wrong, get a second opinion.”
According to the NHS, the main symptoms of ovarian cancer are a swollen belly or feeling bloated, lack of appetite or feeling quickly full, pain or tenderness in the belly and an urgent need to urinate. or a need to urinate more often.
Other symptoms may include indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, back pain, feeling constantly tired, weight loss without trying, and vaginal bleeding after menopause.
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