Woman’s Day (Australia)

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer awareness month A sore stomach was something far more sinister for this brave mum


The stabbing pain seared through her stomach, waking Kasie Ryan from a deep sleep. She looked at the clock – it was 3am. Kasie lay in agony until dawn, and after seeing her two oldest sons, Jesse and Jaxon, off to school, the Melbourne mum-of-three went straight to her GP. “I think I knew it was serious from the beginning,” reveals Kasie, 28. An ultrasound showed a 13 centimetre mass on her left ovary. “I asked if it was a cyst and my GP said she couldn’t be sure if it was a cyst or cancer,”cancer, she says. “I broke down in the car on the way home.”

As courageous Kasie waited for an appointmen­t with a specialist, she tried to keep things routine for her boys, Jesse, 10, Jaxon, seven, and Jaygar, three.

“Life went on. I still had to take my kids to school, make their lunches and cook their tea,” she says. “They only knew that Mum had a sore stomach, but I was tired and in a lot of pain.” Kasie saw a specialist, who told her not to worry: she was young and had no family history of cancer. Doctors told Kasie and her partner, Aaron, 29, to go on their planned holiday in Bali: whatever the problem was could wait. But they were wrong.

“My stomach got bigger day by day. I was too embarrasse­d to have a cocktail because people would think I was pregnant and

‘My stomach got bigger day by day … the pain was worse than childbirth’

drinking,” says Kasie, who says she looked six months pregnant by the end of the holiday.

When she got home Kasie had another ultrasound, which showed the mass had doubled to the size of a football. She booked in for surgery that night, but before she could get there, her health took a serious turn.

“After Aaron left for work in the morning, I collapsed. I was vomiting and in and out of consciousn­ess,” says Kasie, who described the pain in her belly as “worse than childbirth”.

She was rushed straight to hospital in an ambulance, where doctors confirmed her ovary had ruptured.

When Kasie was taken into surgery, she still didn’t know if the mass was cancerous. Hours later, she awoke with her mum Lynette by her side.

“Aaron wasn’t there so I knew it wasn’t good. He was too upset,” recalls Kasie. “The specialist told me it was cancer – they’d given me a hysterecto­my. I wasn’t shocked, I’d had that feeling all along.”

Kasie was told she had Stage 1C mucinous ovarian cancer – a rare form of the disease. She joins the 1550 Australian women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. Genetics and family historyhi t account tf for up t to 20 per cent of cases, but Kasie has no idea why she developed it.

She was told she’d require six months of chemothera­py. Before her first session, she called her boys into her room for a hug.

“I saw Jesse’s worried face and said, ‘Now, mate, everything is going to be fine, but the lump the doctors cut out of me was cancer.’

“He went white and Jaxon looked unsure. Seeing that look on their faces is an image I’ll never be able to get out of my head. My heart broke,” she says.

As chemothera­py progressed, Kasie’s long blonde hair began falling out. So a friend with a hairdressi­ng salon suggested the boys could cut their mum’s hair.

“They gave me a mohawk at first,” she says with a laugh.

“I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes and got a lot of pity looks at the supermarke­t – so I tried not to go out too much.”

The chemothera­py took its toll: aching muscles and bones, nausea and fatigue. When Jaxon had his seventh birthday at a play centre, Kasie had to stay home.

But by late September 2016, Kasie was celebratin­g the end of her treatment – and there was no sign of the cancer.

“I had a little cry in my car after hearing that,” she admits.

Thankfully, cancer seems like a distant memory to Kasie now. She feels great and doesn’t dwell on the disease that almost stole her life.

“I feel very, very lucky,” she says. “If it’d been left any longer, it could have been too late.”

Wear a teal ribbon this month to support Ovarian Cancer Australia, and on Teal Ribbon Day on February 22. To buy a ribbon or make a donation, visit ovariancan­cer.net.au.

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 ??  ?? Kasie had to undergo six months of chemothera­py. Her growing cancer made people wonder if she was expecting.
Kasie had to undergo six months of chemothera­py. Her growing cancer made people wonder if she was expecting.

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