WHEN mum, Sirin Steele felt “something move” in her tummy, she recognised the flutter.
Combined with her constant exhaustion, bloated stomach, lingering backache and need to pee, the 36-year-old spotted the tell-tale signs she was pregnant again.
The next morning, Sirin booked to see her doctor.
But she was horrified at what her GP had to say. He confirmed there was “something” in her stomach, but said it “definitely was not a baby”.
Sirin, from Melbourne, Australia, was referred for an urgent ultrasound, which revealed an aggressive ovarian tumour – the size of a melon.
She said: “I was lying in bed with my husband Bryan, who had just found out that his mum had passed away from cancer.
“It was a very sad time, and we were talking when I felt something move in my stomach.
“I thought it was weird but ignored it. But then I felt another thump, and a drop.
“It was such a strange sensation. I thought I could be pregnant.”
Sirin said she left her ultrasound appointment feeling uneasy, after the sonographer wished her luck.
“I’d had plenty of ultrasounds,” she said, “But no one had ever wished me luck before, it didn’t sit well,” she said.
The next day, the mum-of-two was called back to see her doctor.
“He looked me square in the eyes and told me I had cancer,” Sirin said.
It was such a strange sensation. I thought I could be pregnant
“I was in disbelief. I went off at him, calling him a liar. Then I calmed down and let him talk.
“After that, we jumped straight into action. It was such a blur.”
Sirin was sent for more blood tests and a CT scan, which showed a 13cm tumour growing in her abdomen.
But, by the time surgeons got Sirin in to theatre to remove the tumour, it measured 20cm – having grown 7cm in the space of a week.
A biopsy revealed Sirin’s cancer was an aggressive one, and doctors warned the mum she could die.
Sirin, mum to Kayla, six, and Ostin, four, said: “When my doctor told me the tumour was malignant, my whole world turned upside down.
“I had this weird experience. I usually have colourful imagination, but at that moment everything was black.
“I couldn’t think of tomorrow. I just kept thinking about dying.
Signs of ovarian cancer you need to know
OVARIAN cancer can be hard to detect, because many of the signs are similar to those of less serious conditions.
- abdominal bloating
- difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- frequent or urgent urination
- back, abdominal or pelvic pain
- constipation or diarrhoea
- menstrual irregularities
- pain during sexual intercourse
- unexplained weight loss or weight gain
“I thought about what my husband would do without me, and how my kids were going to cope growing up without a mother.
“I thought of all the pain my passing would have on my family. I thought about what I was going to leave behind and what kind of legacy I would leave.
“I realised in that moment that nothing else mattered except the way I made people feel, that was how I was going to be remembered.
“The doctor then came back into the room, and told me not to worry, that there was a chance I’d get through it once I have the treatments.
“At that point, I knew I had to survive. I was going to fight this thing with all the strength I had.”
Sirin’s ovarian cancer was stage two, grade three germ cell tumour – which accounts for just four per cent of all ovarian cancer cases in Australia.
Sirin had another surgery to remove all traces of the tumour and ensure that it has not spread, which luckily it did not.
The mum underwent intensive chemotherapy treatment over four months which involved four-hour treatments five days a week, with a fortnightly break between rounds.
After all the treatments, Sirin was told she was completely cancer-free in September 2016 – and now has check-ups every three months.
Sirin’s journey has seen her change career paths, and now the mum, a former engineer, wants to work with ovarian cancer organisations so she can raise awareness and help others going through it.
She said: “It’s difficult to diagnose. Many women don’t know they have it until they’re in stage four and it’s too late.
MORE ON OVARIAN CANCER
“I was one of the lucky ones, and I know that my experience is my way to help other women who are going through it.
“But it’s so important to go to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, as a pap smear can’t detect ovarian cancer.
“If I had not done anything about my symptoms, the tumour would have ruptured and spread, and I would be dead.
“Women need to be advocates for their own health. If you notice anything wrong, get checked out. It could save your life.”
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