Written by Samantha Lade, DonateToday

6 years ago she feared she might not be able to have kids – now, mum-of-two says listening to her body was key to her early diagnosis of ovarian cancer

Six years ago she feared she might not be able to have children – now, mum-of-two Jo says listening to her body was key to her early diagnosis of ovarian cancer

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 12:51, 24th Jan 2018 | UPDATED: 15:35, 20th Feb 2018

Every two hours, Ovarian Cancer takes the life of a woman in the UK. When Jo Blankley was diagnosed at the age of just 29, her mind sprung to fears for her life, as well as to future infertility. Here, Jo and Ovarian Cancer Action highlight how listening to your body can be crucial when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.

Something Doesn't Feel Right

When a 29-year-old Jo Blankley noticed that she was spotting between periods, she knew that something wasn’t quite right. She’d not experienced any severe pains or bloating – but still, she felt sure that her body was telling her something.

When Jo’s GP referred her for a blood test, the results led to her having a scan. 

That scan returned showing a small cyst which turned out to be malignant: ovarian cancer.

‘No one knows how they’ll react when they’re told they have cancer,’ explains Jo. 

‘When that moment came for me, I certainly felt afraid. Afraid of dying, of course. Afraid of telling my family and friends and causing them emotional pain. And afraid of the overall uncertainty such a diagnosis brings.’

Ovarian cancer is the UK’s most deadly gynaecological disease taking 4,100 lives each year

- Ovarian Cancer Action

One of My Biggest Fears

Jo says that the months which followed were far from easy. However, she believes she maintained relative normality whilst undergoing her treatment. 

‘I was hopeful it would just be a blip,’ she recalls, ‘Something that I had to go through but that wouldn’t define my whole life.’

However, she there was one fear which Jo struggled to shake during that time. Often, treatment for ovarian cancer consists of surgery or partial surgery (such as a hysterectomy), as well as chemotherapy.

‘One of my biggest fears was that having ovarian cancer would mean I’d never be able to have children of my own,' remembers Jo.

‘Becoming a mum is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted. The thought of motherhood being an impossibility aged 29 wasn’t something I felt ready to face.’

Jo admits one of her biggest fears was not being able to carry her own children

Two Beautiful Children

Jo’s cancer was, thankfully, caught early. This meant that she was able to avoid a complete hysterectomy, with her consultant instead completing the removal of just one ovary, followed by six rounds of chemotherapy.

After two years of close observation, Jo and her husband were then finally given the green light to begin trying for a baby.

‘Fast forward six years, and I now have two beautiful children – my four-year-old boy and two-year-old girl,’ gushes Jo. 

‘To say I feel lucky would be the world’s biggest understatement.'

With no family history of ovarian cancer and few symptoms, Jo realises how easy it would have been to ignore the signs and get checked out. She recently decided to go ahead with a full hysterectomy, to minimise the risk of the cancer returning.

Jo is now sharing her story through charity Ovarian Cancer Action to help raise awareness of the UK's sixth most common cancer in women. 

The charity fund research that saves lives, as well as raising awareness of the disease and campaigning for change around preventative testing.

‘Ovarian cancer has caused so much heartache for so many women,' says Jo. 'That’s why, when my children grow up and I tell them about my illness, I’ll do so to reinforce the message that no one knows your body like you do.’

‘If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait. As scary as a cancer diagnosis can be, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your future hopes and dreams.’