45-year-old Mara Kofoed Ovarian cancer December 2021 months after trying to understand the vague and seemingly unrelated symptoms. She found that doctors fired them every time and did not tie them to the tumor. She finally visited the emergency room to get an answer. Coford, who lives in Hudson Valley, New York, shared her story with today.
It was the biggest shock in my life to find out that I had ovarian cancer. I probably suspected breast cancer because my grandmother had it, but ovarian cancer was very, very off the radar.
Women need to be more trained in this.We know about breast cancer, but almost no one could rattle Symptoms of ovarian cancer — I wouldn’t have been able to rattle them. All these little things are there and it’s very difficult for people to put them all together. The doctor didn’t put it together either.
In 2017, I started to feel a little pain during sex. That was the earliest. Another early symptom was a slightly different sensation around the urethra. I thought, “It feels like a UTI, but it’s not.” I felt something was squeezing the bladder.
There was also a change in the urination pattern. I woke up in the middle of the night and was peeing, which was new and different to me. I also intended to pee more during the day.
I had general malaise without explanation. I was also suffering from constipation.
In May 2021, I started to notice that my waist was getting thicker. I’m usually very thin and slender, so I noticed the thickness around her abdomen. The rest of the body was thin, so it looked like I had gained a little weight, but only under the ribs.
I heard that bloating is a symptom of ovarian cancer, but it is a vague symptom. I hadn’t thought about cancer yet. I didn’t know enough about what to look for. Abdominal distension is caused by a growing tumor and fluid around it. Ascites..
Fullness is a very misunderstanding way to explain it. I think that the feeling of fullness is the gas caused by eating something. But people don’t tie it to the ovaries, so another language is needed. It is a persistent, thickened abdominal area that later grows into a swollen abdomen.
I started to feel a little pain in my ovaries — a little pinch and shimmer. I also had some extreme ovarian painful episodes, I leaned over, grabbed the countertop and told her husband something was very wrong.
The first obstetrician and gynecologist I met was until November 30, 2021. I told him all the symptoms and my belly was very big, but he didn’t go there. Ready to be tested for ovarian cancer. I still didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t splice these things together, I didn’t know they were all related.
He ignored almost all the symptoms I mentioned, but focused on one. He leaned back on his chair and told me, “Women of your age no longer want sex, so they dry.” He focused on the painful part of sex.
He didn’t seem to care about the size of my stomach. He wanted to scan, but he said, “I don’t need a scan.” I left the promise completely traumatic because of what he said to me, he ignored me and rejected what I was saying. His office sent me an email with a clear Papanicolaou test and a “See you in a year” document.
A week and a half after that appointment, on December 10, I thought I couldn’t survive the weekend, so I went to a local emergency medical care outside the freeway on Friday night. The bloated belly was so extreme that it had a serious impact on walking, breathing, eating, drinking, sleeping, sitting, and going to the bathroom. It was putting pressure on all the organs — so intense that I thought I might die. It was one of the most painful and horrifying things I have ever experienced.
I told the nurse all the symptoms. She looked at my belly and took it seriously. She soon learned that this wasn’t normal, and she said, “I need to go to the ER tonight and get a CT scan.”
The ER said the doctor returned after the scan and found the mass. I needed to meet an oncologist right away.
It turned out to be stage 3C ovarian cancer. Each ovary had a tumor — 12 centimeters on one side and 6.5 centimeters on the other. There were two small tumors about 2 cm in the rectum and bladder. Just a week and a half ago, the doctor examined me and missed it.
I Weight loss surgery December 28, 2021. They removed the ovaries, tubes, uterus, cervix, and omentum. This is the lining that puts everything together.
He also received six treatments with two chemotherapeutic drugs. I’m very fine today. I took good care of myself during the chemotherapy treatment.
As the doctor’s office advised, if I had been waiting for my next appointment for a year, that would have meant death. I wouldn’t have lasted a year.
One of the most important things for women is their thoughts. Are you telling yourself, “This is weird. This is unusual. What is this?”
All the biggest messages of this illness are: If there are persistent symptoms, it will continue to recur or perhaps it will not go away at all, it is very worrisome.
This interview has been edited and summarized for clarity.