This story reinforces a key theme we champion here at Pink Hope – knowing your body gives you an opportunity to advocate for yourself, to get the necessary tests, treatments and support. Lisa is now 53 years old, 10 years ago (at the age of 44) she had been getting a lot of abdominal pain on and off. She found it would just come on out of the blue and last just a few hours, or overnight, and go.
Lisa went to the doctor for blood tests and basic samples to try to find out if the pain was diverticulitis or related to her appendix. After a number of tests, it was revealed Lisa had endometrial hyperplasia, precancerous cells of the uterus lining.
“I had to have a partial hysterectomy. My ovaries looked fine, so he left them because of my age. Then, two years later, I was just paranoid and still got the pain every now and again, so I asked for an ultrasound on my ovaries to check, because that's all that they left, and they were fine.
“Then, two years after that I was getting the pain more regularly and further testing found I had ovarian cancer. It was pretty heartbreaking to hear those words.”
This wasn’t to be Lisa’s only experience with cancer. After her ovarian cancer diagnosis, Lisa was tested for the BRCA one and two genes - results were negative.
Approximately 18 months later, after experiencing some aches, Lisa had a mammogram where a mass was found. The mass was diagnosed as breast cancer, stage 1 grade 3 triple negative.
Lisa’s medical team recommended she undergo a colour test, which tests for 30 common hereditary cancers. The results came back negative except for the ovarian cancer gene – RAD51D.
Further tests in the family revealed Lisa’s mum, sister and some cousins all have the gene – which has allowed them to take preventative surgery. The family’s medical history is now part of Heather Thorne’s (kConFab) research group.
Lisa’s triple negative breast cancer diagnosis came just as she was eagerly awaiting the birth of her first grandchild.
“He just got me through my chemo and everything. Had this little boy in my arms at the end, and I’ve gotten another little girl since then”.
Lisa accredits her positive mindset, along with the incredible supportive network of family and friends – in getting her through her cancer journey.
Advice to others
Lisa’s advice to others is to advocate for yourself. You know your body best, so keep investigating if you feel that your questions haven’t been answered.
Know and understand as much as you can about your situation. Accept help from your family and friends. Don't think you can do it all on your own because you can't. If you have people who want to take you to treatments or just sit there with you – allow them to help and support you. Rest up and be positive - a positive mindset is number one.
We thank Lisa for bravely sharing her story in the hope that both women and men become more aware of their bodies and their health. We are inspired by her love and respect for how precious life is.