Ovarian Cancer Patient Urges Women Not To Delay Getting Symptoms Checked

5th March 2024

“There is no rhyme or logic with cancer, anyone can get it. I have certainly realised that.” The thoughts of Jill Murdock who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in August 2023. As part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, the Newtownards woman is encouraging women who may notice changes or symptoms similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to make an appointment a priority with their GP.

Jill described how she began noticing symptoms last Summer. “I was experiencing bloating, a change in my bowel habits and sharp pains around my ovaries as well as extreme fatigue.”

Macmillan Gynae Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Ulster Hospital Paula Dempster explained, “The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly in the early stages of the disease. Early symptoms can include those similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, for example; persistent bloating, difficulty eating, feeling full quickly and persistent abdominal and pelvic pain. Other symptoms can include loss of appetite, indigestion, nausea, pain on intercourse, increased abdominal size, urinary and bowel habit changes, shortness of breath, lower back pain, tiredness and abnormal vaginal bleeding.”

Jill explained how she met and was supported with a Consultant Gynaecologist at the Ulster Hospital who carried out a “very gently examination and arranged for the CT and MRI scans to be carried out at Belfast’s City Hospital.”

When she received her Ovarian Cancer diagnosis, Jill explained how she and her family were simply “quite devastated” to learn that the cancer had spread. “I had to make the decisions there and then whether it was going to be surgery and chemotherapy or to not have the treatment. The cancer had transferred to both ovaries, my fallopian tubes and womb. I underwent a long operation, between four and a half to five hours, where anything with a cancer cell was removed. I remember being fitted for a stoma bag as well but thankfully having underwent the surgery my bowel was ok.”

Jill began her chemotherapy treatment in September. With one last treatment to be administered, Jill said that she and her family are very much, “looking forward to an Easter break in Newcastle together” as they continue to take each day as it comes.

“I haven’t always been brave. I do have my faith, the power of prayer, the love of my husband Andrew and children Matthew and Victoria. It is a strong foundation. My advice to anyone that has any sort of worry, any sort of changes to their bowel movements or fatigue is to make an appointment and get it checked out. I think you as a person knows your body best. Prioritise your health, as it is your wealth.”

For more information on Ovarian Cancer and support services visit www.Ovacome.org.uk or www.targetovariancancer.org.uk