Elizabeth's ovarian cancer journey
Elizabeth Paddison, 63, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. Today, Elizabeth is on a pioneering clinical trial at The Royal Marsden’s West Wing Clinical Research Centre, funded entirely by generous gifts in Wills.
My shock diagnosis
I couldn’t believe it when I was diagnosed with metastatic high grade ovarian cancer in April 2017.
I had never had any previous health issues but one day – when trying yoga for the first time – I felt a hardness in my bladder area. I decided to see my GP and she could feel a mobile mass which was causing pressure. At this point, I didn’t have any other symptoms, so it wasn’t too much of a worry.
I was referred to a consultant and cancer wasn’t even mentioned. They advised surgery and it was during this that they discovered a 2cm malignant tumour on my right ovary. My surgeon took samples and was happy that she had removed any visible cancer.
However, it was during my follow up appointment that I was given my diagnosis. Cancer cells had been found and would require chemotherapy.
Staying positive throughout my treatment
I’m a positive person so I knew I had to just get on with it. I coped with chemotherapy very well and was fortunate not to have many side effects.
I knew I would lose my hair so I decided to shave it all off (after a glass or two of wine!) I have three lovely grown up sons, a fabulous daughter-in-law and am blessed with three amazing grandchildren who all live close by. I was conscious of how they might feel seeing me without my hair so I decided to buy a wig.
The first time I saw them again, my granddaughter followed me into the downstairs loo and asked if I could take my wig off. I was worried when she stared at me, mouth open. Instead she said, “Oh, you look even more beautiful. Please come and show Mummy and Daddy!” After that I embraced my naked head and did my best to rock it!
After a successful first line of treatment in September, I continued with regular follow up consultations and blood tests. By May 2018, my scan showed that the cancer was spreading again and I had two new tumours in my liver. These couldn’t be treated by radiotherapy and I had limited treatment options by this point.
Hope in the form of The Royal Marsden’s clinical trial
My consultant offered me a referral to The Royal Marsden for the DICE trial. I knew this was a randomised trial with a 50/50 chance you would either receive standard treatment or the trial drug, but I decided I had nothing to lose and wanted to take part.
It felt reassuring to have the opportunity to be under such a renowned cancer hospital like The Royal Marsden. Trial participants are always closely monitored with consultations every week. The trial could benefit future patients too, so for me it was a no brainer.
I started the trial in February 2021 and the team at the West Wing were absolutely brilliant. They are not just professional and experts in their field, but also friendly and personable – you are not just a trial participant. It truly feels like an extended family. The West Wing has an air of positivity too and you end up having your own support bubble of people who are going through the same journey as you.
Looking towards the future
I have now had the second dose of the second cycle and have felt fine throughout with no serious side effects. I even manage to go on short runs when I walk my 2 miles every day! My marker has significantly dropped and I’m hopeful that when I get my first scan soon, this is reflected in a reduction of the cancer.
Although I am realistic about my diagnosis and my future, I also believe in the power of positivity and you never know what new treatments may be around the corner. You have to aim to thrive rather than simply survive.
I know I am extremely fortunate to have such a wonderful family and friends who keep me positive. Every day can offer something wonderful and having cancer makes you appreciate even the most insignificant things. My motto throughout this journey has been “carpe diem” and that is what I try and live by.
By leaving a gift in your Will through our Free Will Service, you can help fund pioneering research and lifesaving treatments like the clinical trial Elizabeth is on. If you’d like to find out more about how you could write your Will for free, you can read more here. We’d love to hear from you at [email protected] if you’d like to share your experiences at The Royal Marsden.