Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Maree’s Ovarian Cancer Journey at age 21 - Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Maree Taifalos was just 21 when she was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain. She underwent surgery a couple of days later for what everyone thought was a large cyst, but what was in fact dysgerminoma—a rare type of ovarian cancer.

“A week after surgery, I was told about the chemotherapy. It was a particularly strong type that was developed earlier that year. Three cycles, each one three weeks long, with the first week being five days of treatment in a row. It made me so sick. I would barely be able to walk to the car from the hospital. I would be so nauseous that the smell of food passing my room to get to other rooms would make me vomit.

But throughout it all, I had some amazing support around me. My parents never left me alone in hospital and would juggle work and my siblings to always make sure I had the best care at home. My brother took on so much more in the family—he was at university at the time so I don’t know how he managed it, but he’s a pretty special person. My little sister was very young, she was scared because she didn't understand what was going on but she motivated me to finish my treatment. And the nurses—they would sneak blankets and mattresses into my room so Dad could sleep on the floor.

While having my treatment, I didn’t know a single person with cancer younger than my grandparents’ generation. I had no idea what I was in for with treatment but, more importantly, I didn’t know how quickly I would heal and that my life would return to ‘normal’.

By November that year I was in remission. My skin had returned to normal, my hair had started growing, I’d started back at work and was planning on going back to university as soon as I could. I found out that I’d be able to have children, even after everything that my body had been through. That was a big relief for me.

This July marks nine years in remission. Since then, I've finished my studies and have been practising as a lawyer for the past four years.

It’s taken a while for me to be able to talk about my experience and to be able to reflect on the last eight years. I like to think my life’s ‘normal’ now but maybe a bit better because I know I’m lucky to have come out the other side of an ovarian cancer diagnosis relatively unscathed. I was one of the lucky whose ovarian cancer was picked up in the early stages. With an early detection test, my prognosis would be the norm rather than the exception. That's why I'm supporting the OCRF.”

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OVARIAN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Last year Digga raised 99K for Ovarian Cancer Research! This is a very close cause to our heart as Digga suffered a big loss in June 2018, when Suzie Wright, our CEO and Managing Director, passed away after a long struggle with a rare form of ovarian cancer.

As a tribute to Suzie and with February being Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, every Friday during February we'd like to share with you stories from the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) about women, their journeys & battles through this terrible disease. While the OCRF work on numerous projects the results of the clinical trials of the early detection test is extremely positive. If you're anyway able to help this great work continue by donation any amount to the OCRF you'll be helping change the lives of thousands of people: www.ocrf.com.au

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