Harrogate woman's bid to raise awareness of ovarian cancer

A Harrogate woman has shared her story with the thousands in a bid to help a regional charity make more women aware of ovarian cancer.

Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 11:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 11:36 am
Jo Beagley

Jo Beagley was just 39 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in summer 2014.

Documenting her story in a journal and then a blog, Jo has shared her experiences in an effort to help other women going through the same thing.

But now, to support ‘ovarian cancer awareness month’ regional charity, Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR), will feature Jo’s blog posts every day throughout March.

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Mrs Beagley said: “I had no health issues, I was completely fine, I had an active life - I had just taken part in the Knaresborough bed race in June 2014 and I felt absolutely fine.

“I noticed I started to feel slightly bloated but it didn’t feel alarming and I wasn’t in any pain with it.

“It was only in July I started to get abdominal pain and it got progressively worse and at that point something inside my head didn’t feel right.

“I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a week after going to a GP with my symptoms.

"It was completely out of the blue, at no point did it go through my mind that it could be cancer so it came as a massive shock.

“I’d heard of [ovarian cancer] and that was probably it. You don’t see much about it and there is not a lot of awareness around the symptoms, what it means, options for treatment, who is likely to get it.

“It was completely new to me, I was struggling to come to terms with it, I was quite quickly catapulted into a series of appointments.”

Fortunate enough to already have two young boys, Jo opted to have a full hysterectomy, but following the operation doctors discovered the cancer had spread and started Jo on a course of chemotherapy.

Jo said: “I just wanted to to get whatever it was inside me out. I can imagine for someone who was younger and hadn’t had children and wanted them that that would be more traumatic.

“Fortunately for me I had got my family and it was a matter of doing what needs to be done."

Around 10 months into her illness Jo started her blog, writing down everything she went through and how it made her feel.

She said: “I started to think if someone else was in a similar situation it could be helpful for them. I certainly found it helpful to read other people’s stories of going through treatments for cancer.

“I had a personal desire to raise awareness about ovarian cancer because there is very little out there, it’s down to women and health professionals to be aware of what the symptoms might be.

"I'm just an ordinary person I went for a long time feeling fine.”

Today, Jo’s cancer is considered to be managed which is what her treatment plan set out to achieve.

She said: “The risk of recurrence remains high for me, I have to focus on the short term - it is managed and I have to do what I can to keep it that way.”

If you're interested in supporting ovarian cancer awareness month, would like to find out more or read Jo's blog you can find it on the YCR website here