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A ‘silent killer’ that need not be deadly

A ‘silent killer’ that need not be deadly

By Ciara Quinn

A West Belfast health campaigner is urging women to be more aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Known as the ‘silent killer’, over 7,000 women a year are diagnosed by the Health Service with the disease and cervical screening tests will not detect it.

59-year-old Poleglass mother-of-five Una Crudden, who has ovarian cancer, says early diagnosis could save lives and that if in doubt women should seek a second opinion from their  GP.

“I was diagnosed in December 2009,” she said. “I had been attending the doctor for the three months prior and I was told it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). A lot of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are very similar to IBS – your abdomen swells, you have a change in your bowel motions and you feel full very quickly after taking only a few mouthfuls of food. I had continuous sharp pains in my side, which started to get worse.

“I started to suffer terrible pain in my pelvic area and then was fast-tracked to Lagan Valley where I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was told I had a 13-inch tumour inside me.”

“I feel it was my persistence in that I wasn’t getting or feeling any better and kept going back that enabled me to keep going. I’ve had three rounds of chemotherapy and I’m going back to the hospital this month for my cancer review.

“At the time there were five of us diagnosed together and I’m the last one left – the others have died and every one of us was misdiagnosed with IBS,” she said.

“It’s really disturbing to read the statistics that so many women are misdiagnosed. Women have to remember that, if detected early, 92 per cent of them, with treatment, can survive, compared to only 36 per cent, which is where the figure stands at the minute.

“Women need to be more aware of their own bodies and symptoms – they should insist on being tested if they have any of them.”

Una has campaigned tirelessly for the NI Hospice and has recorded a CD, ‘Angel of Hope’, which to date has raised over £21,500.

“I have given talks at some of our local churches addressing the issue and if women aren’t happy with the answers they get from their GP, then just go back or seek another opinion. It’s a very hard condition to try to deal with. I never drank or smoked and I always exercised and ate healthily.

“Early detection goes such a long way to helping and that is such a vital important start.”

The Angel of Hope CD, priced at £10, is on sale at Specsavers in Ann Street, the Park Centre, the Abbey Centre and the Hospice Shop Andersonstown.

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