By Charlotte Nisbet
A mum who claims she was misdiagnosed with postnatal depression instead of cancer for THREE YEARS after struggling with low mood and bloating is celebrating being cancer free.
Claire Thompson, 38, began struggling with extreme tiredness, low mood, bloating and bleeding after giving birth to her daughter, Eirwen, now six.
The mum-of-one says doctors diagnosed her with postnatal depression and generalised tiredness after she explained her debilitating symptoms.
Claire dismissed her own concerns after trusting experts before she began suffering from horrific periods which would require her to take a spare pair of clothes to work each day and wear layers of incontinence pads.
After visiting her doctors and A&E over 20 times with fears that she would ‘bleed to death,’ Claire was finally referred for further tests as her bloated stomach made her appear seven months pregnant.
Doctors eventually detected a 10cm mass on her left ovary and fallopian tube but Claire claims they reassured her that it was likely to be a cyst.
But Claire says she pushed for surgery and was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer – she then underwent a full hysterectomy in a bid to save her life in 2016.
Claire from Conway, Wales, is now sharing her story to raise awareness for the disease after celebrating her three years of being all clear last month.
The civil servant, said: “Something changed after the birth of my daughter. At the time I was told it was postnatal depression and was just part of me getting used to being a new mum.
“I felt really low and my stomach was extremely bloated and even when my periods stopped for a short while I was told I was probably just depressed.
“Looking back, I had all the symptoms of ovarian cancer but it was all just passed off as part of my new life as a mum.
“Gradually my periods became heavier and I was using two layered maxi size incontinence pads every hour. At one point I was visiting my A&E department every two to three weeks for around 18 months.
“Finally I was referred to gynaecology and diagnosed with a mass.
“It took weeks before I was actually diagnosed with cancer as they thought it was just a cyst and it was so frustrating.
“I wanted to scream from the rooftops, ‘I have been telling you this for years, why didn’t you listen?’
“The word cancer is such a huge thing. After the initial diagnosis, my whole world crashed around me, I didn’t know where to turn.
“Thankfully my husband, Mark, 38, was really supportive and we got through it together.
“After a full hysterectomy which threw my body into early menopause, I was cancer free and was given three years all clear in May.”
Claire was told she had three tumours removed after her life-saving surgery but was thankful it hadn’t spread.
She added: “My biggest tumour was 10cm by 6cm, we named him Gerald.
“I couldn’t believe it when they told me I had two other smaller tumours too, it’s a miracle it didn’t spread in two years.
“I was also so overwhelmed with information. One day I was out walking with my husband, and I was thinking about our daughter, Eirwen, living her life without me. Suddenly, the image of a banana popped into my head.
“It sounds strange, but I can honestly say that it stopped me from breaking that day.
“After that, bananas became kind of a symbol of hope for me and my family. They were a reminder to us that no matter what you go through, there’s always a ray of light.
“When I got told I was in remission, we threw a Christmas party to celebrate – in September!
“I decorated the entire house and left it up for the rest of the year. I want my daughter to look back and remember that as the year her mum was crazy enough to celebrate Christmas for four months, rather than the year mummy was ill.”
Claire is sharing her story to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
She said: “I also want women to know that, just because the person in front of you has a doctorate of medicine, it doesn’t mean they know more about your body than you do.
“If you know something is wrong, go back and question things. You know your body better than any doctor.
“I didn’t have postnatal depression, I had cancer.
“I’m not angry about my misdiagnosis but I hope my story helps other women in the future.”
Claire has been supported by Target Ovarian Cancer – a leading UK charity for the disease.
Alexandra Holden, Director of Communications, Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “Eleven women die every day from ovarian cancer in the UK. There is no screening and one in five women is too ill to treat by the time they receive a diagnosis.
“Raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms is key, so this March, for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Target Ovarian Cancer is calling for a government-funded symptoms awareness campaign.
“Our research shows that one in five women mistakenly think a smear test can detect ovarian cancer. In reality, with no screening programme, it is even more important that women know the symptoms.”
To read more visit: https://www.targetovariancancer.org.uk/