Survivor Story14 April 2021
Survivor Dianne shares her journey with ovarian cancer
"I was in dire straits before I started on the trial"
I was starting to feel really tired – I was always able to play 18 holes of golf. I had trouble getting up stairs with my breathing, so we called an ambulance and I was taken to the Royal Melbourne, and that’s where I was diagnosed by a lung specialist. I had two and a half litres of fluid on my right lung, so unfortunately the cancer had got out of my peritoneum and into my lung.
The day after I was diagnosed, I was looking at my little great nephew at the zoo thinking I’m not going to see him grow up. I have moments to myself where I think how much longer have I got. I’m just happy pottering in the garden, maybe a game of golf, I love having a coffee and going out to restaurants with friends. If it wasn’t for the trial, I wouldn’t be even in the cart playing golf. I really enjoy my simple life, so every day I get, I’m extremely grateful and I realise how fortunate I am to be on a trial and to be given such an opportunity. I’m only here because of women who have gone before me so if there’s anything I can do, I will.
I had the total hysterectomy and it all went really well. I had great surgeons and was very well looked after at the Royal Women’s. I had the standard chemotherapy that women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have. After surgery and two kinds of standard chemotherapy there was no other treatments left to try. Then ANZGOG’s IGNITE clinical trial was spoken about at the end of 2019 and we were looking at going onto the trial in March 2020, but that was put on hold because of COVID-19 I was then fortunate to be enrolled in June. I was in dire straits before I started on the trial, so I’m pretty overwhelmed at the opportunity to be eligible for the trial because it’s given me potentially another 12 months.
My cancer indicator when I started on the trial was 12,000. Within the first cycle it went down to 7,000 so I had this amazing, amazing drop. It’s come down consistently, I think it’s down to 1,367 now. The drug is keeping the cancer at bay. It’s given me such a chance and it’s made all my family and friends very happy as well. I think my family and friends have it worse than me – they want to help but they can’t, they can just walk beside you.
I didn’t realise there were different types of ovarian cancer, which I’m sure a lot of people don’t. Until you’ve met someone who’s had cancer you don’t realise the advancements they’ve made in the last 20 or 30 years are just enormous. I go back to just how far research has come for cancer – where they are with breast cancer, hopefully they get to that stage with ovarian cancer and some of the others that perhaps don’t get the same amount of funding.
Research is enormously important, I wouldn't be here now if people hadn’t donated to research.