Kettering woman joins campaign to raise awareness of ovarian cancer after being given months to live
Her symptoms were initially dismissed as a urine infection or gastrointestinal issue
A Kettering woman who is terminally ill with ovarian cancer is helping a charity raise awareness of the disease.
Mum-of-two Rebecca Betts, 50, was given six months to live last November having been diagnosed with the illness five years ago, which she knew little about
The former auditor said that she was considered too young at the time to have ovarian cancer and that her symptoms of bloating, eating less but feeling fuller, abdominal pain and back ache were dismissed as being a urine infection or a gastrointestinal issue.
That was until her symptoms worsened when Rebecca said she looked as if she was pregnant with twins and she took herself to A&E. Tests revealed that she had in fact late stage IV ovarian cancer which she was told was treatable, but not curable.
She said: “I hadn’t even considered cancer.
“I didn’t have cancer in my family and all I kept thinking was that ‘I have kids and a husband - how are we going to get through this?’”
Since her diagnosis Rebecca has been on a series of treatments which largely controlled the cancer, and has enabled her to hit milestones she thought she might never reach including celebrating her son’s graduation, meeting her first grandchild and renewing her vows with her husband Craig on their 25th wedding anniversary.
But she says she now feels on “borrowed time” having discovered last November that the cancer had spread to her stomach, pelvis and spleen.
She wants to help others avoid going through what she has by teaming up with ovarian cancer support charity Ovacome in its multilingual awareness campaign running in the East Midlands this March.
Thanks to a £30,115 grant from the Charities Aid Foundation, Ovacome is reaching out to women in the East Midlands with awareness material and telephone support lines in seven widely spoken languages: Polish, Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali and Arabic, as well as English.
Rebecca, who has been supported by Ovacome’s community and helpline staff throughout her illness, is facing further treatment but she is determined this will not get in the way of her awareness raising.
She said: “I don’t know how much longer I have got left.
"But what I do know is that I will make the most of every single moment and to continue, with every breath, to raise awareness of this terrible disease with the symptoms all too frequently being missed.
“I’ve always taken the attitude that I have two choices. I can sit in my chair feeling sorry for myself, or I can put on my big girl pants and make the most of however long I have left."
When ovarian cancer is caught early the prognosis is good. With the absence of routine testing of the disease - a cervical smear test will not pick it up - women need to react to the main B.E.A.T. signs of ovarian cancer if they are new and persistent.
B is for bloating that does not come and go;
E is for eating difficulty and feeling full more quickly;
A is for abdominal and pelvic pain felt most days;
T is for toilet changes in urination or bowel habits.
● If you are affected by ovarian cancer or concerned about the disease contact Ovacome at ovacome.org.uk or call 0800 008 7054.