Romford woman credits early ovarian cancer diagnosis for saving her life
PUBLISHED: 14:49 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:25 22 March 2017
TZ Photography/Clinical Photography UK
Overjoyed at reaching her goal of being a size 12, the future looked bright for Helen Heagren.
The 52-year-old, from Marks Road, Romford, worked hard for a year and enjoyed the dance classes she was doing at the gym.
That was until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“Dr Bond at Western Road Medical Centre [in Romford] was absolutely spot on,” said Helen.
“She was quick.”
March marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Early diagnosis means the chances of surviving the disease for five years or more doubles from just 46 per cent to more than 90pc.
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t [diagnosed quickly],” continued Helen.
“I was a stage 3 in December 2015”.
According to Target Ovarian Cancer, nearly half of GPs mistakenly believe symptoms only present in the later stages of the disease, and less than a third of women in the UK are confident they know the symptoms.
“Speaking to people in the chemo unit, people are fobbed off with urine infections,” added Helen.
“I am extremely lucky.”
Common symptoms include bloating of the stomach, needing to wee urgently or more often, pelvic or tummy pain, and always feeling full or difficulty eating.
In Havering an average of 30 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and 16 women die from the disease.
Helen hopes to complete her treatment in around three weeks time and credits her family and cancer nurse Tina Mills Balbock with keeping her spirits up.
“There’s a couple of times when I had chemo and wanted to give up because it’s so bad,” continues Helen.
“It gets to everybody but I have got people behind me and a fantastic cancer nurse. She is superb. “Everyone needs a Tina in their life.”
Helen urges women to know their bodies and get a second opinion if still concerned after seeing their GP.
For more information on the disease visit targetovariancancer.org.uk.