"I never wondered why me, because - why not me?"
21 September 2022
After 18 years, Wanda is what the ovarian cancer research community calls a ‘super responder’. In a disease considered the deadliest of all women’s cancers, with overall survival of 49% to five years, Wanda is considered a long-term survivor.
Wanda experienced symptoms that are among the most reported by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “I noticed I was needing to urinate more frequently and had some bloating. I had also lost weight over several months.” She didn’t know much about gynaecological cancers outside the need for regular screening for cervical cancer, and she had always been pro-active in her health and fitness. “I visited my doctor for a routine pap screen, and they had difficulty getting the sample. She physically examined me and felt a lump. I was very lucky as a pap test doesn’t pick up ovarian cancer.” She was sent for further investigation with an ultrasound, and it was then she was referred to a gynaecological surgeon, and a radical hysterectomy followed.
Her surgeon then delivered the news, stage 2c ovarian cancer.
“I was initially numb, I think. It felt unreal because prior to surgery I didn’t really feel unwell. Then there I was – having major surgery, facing chemotherapy and dealing with a cancer diagnosis. I never wondered why me, because why not me? I chose to think about what I could do to help with my own recovery.”
In Australia this year it is expected that 1,815 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 1,000 will die from the disease. Wanda has chosen to stay connected to the cancer community by volunteering to be part of ANZGOG’s research program that pioneers new discoveries for gynaecological cancer. She understands the importance of someone with lived experience speaking up for those who are unable. “I have seen too many people die too young but also suffer pain, sadness and loss of hope. My wish is one day research will be able to provide women impacted with more hope and better outcomes.”
“Cancer doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed; it affects their loved ones. My husband was and still is a great help to keep me focused on one day, one year.” Wanda believes in looking for the ‘LG – the life is good moment every day. “They don’t all have to be big wow times and sometimes you have to work a bit to find one. But they make a difference.”
“I want women of the future, like my nieces, to potentially be able to face a cancer diagnosis without fear.”
This September WomenCan Honour Wanda and other women like her, who have been diagnosed with gynaecological cancer.
You can Bid, Buy or Donate during Honour Her to support gynaecological cancer research and women like Wanda.