Now 25, Ritchie is almost seven years cancer free. The treatment towards the end left her weak and tired, both in the body and the mind. “The treatment that would continue after the completion of chemothera­py and radiation was a whole other challenge,” she recalls. “The devastatin­g effects that it leaves you with along with the lack of quality of life is something that is not overtly talked about. I went into premature ovarian failure, severe chronic fatigue, depression, and suicidal ideation.” During this time, she was also grieving friends she’d met during her treatment who had lost their battles with cancer. “The feeling of waking up every day and your mind just feels like drowning is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome.”

One of her toughest moments was finding out she would never be able to conceive a child. “My ovaries no longer exist, and I continue to wear the effects of menopause. It’s been six years since the diagnosis, and I still have not yet quite found peace.” Despite the immense obstacles, she is thankful for this time, and the people who supported her. “When you are on cancer treatment there is no time to process or understand what you’re facing. To grieve is the only way forward. Through various opinions of doctors, gynaecolog­ists and natural alternativ­es, I would say treatment from my cancer is ever ongoing. It’s lifelong, it does not end.” Ritchie went on to study nursing in Sydney, then moved to Queensland to work for an insurance broker. Last year, she faced another health setback. “I developed pelvic floor dysfunctio­n and a bowel that can lose control at times. This was all directly related to radiation to the pelvis from cancer treatment.” When she tried to apply for financial assistance for the expensive treatment from the National Disability Insurance Agency, she was denied and told she was not considered disabled. The experience has inspired her to study a masters of public health so she can fight for change in the healthcare system. “I am most grateful to my body, my family, my partner Nishi and all the beautiful people I met so far in my life. I live through my friends who’ve since passed away and I am ever so grateful to be here today.”


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