Ovarian cancer survivor takes on 240,000 step challenge
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
Highlighting the symptoms of ovarian cancer so people do not "brush them under the carpet" is the mission of a Kesgrave woman after her own diagnosis.
Joss Cook is raising awareness and funds by walking 240,000 steps during March as she undergoes her final chemotherapy treatment for the disease.
The 54-year-old was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer in September last year and hopes by sharing her story, at least one woman will catch their cancer early.
When she first experienced abdominal pain, she had a colonoscopy which indicated the pains could be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - a common condition the cancer is mistaken for.
Mrs Cook said: "I felt it wasn't really what it was [IBS] as I had that as a younger person and it was not the same.
"As a woman, and at my age, I was thinking was it just menopausal? Or was I just imagining it all together? As a mum and as a busy person you just brush it under the carpet."
With the pains not getting any better, Mrs Cook said "it was like she was pregnant again" as her stomach was distended, so was referred for an endoscopy.
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It was thought she had a hiatus hernia, which she queried and was told to get to her GP when she left the hospital.
Heading to her GP that day, she said: "They took one look at me and said, 'get a bag, you're going up to the hospital'.
"I had two large tumours, one on each ovary and they needed to operate.
"It was stage three cancer so it had spread slightly, they were confident they had removed all of that.
"I feel I'm a really lucky lady."
There are four main symptoms of ovarian cancer which include persistent stomach pain, bloating, difficulties eating or feeling full quickly and needing the toilet more often.
Patients may also experience extreme tiredness for no reason, a change in bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss.
Mrs Cook is now taking on the Ovarian Cancer Action walking challenge in aid of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which coincides with her last chemotherapy treatment.
She will be helped by her trusted walking buddy Rocky the whippet.
Every year around 295,000 women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, with 82% of cases diagnosed in women in their 50s says the cancer charity.
She thanked the incredible network of friends, family and husband Andy for their support.
She has already smashed her £259 target in days and is now heading towards £1,000.
"All of that support has been amazing for me. I'm really privileged and humbled, I have a fantastic network. There are so many women who do not have that network.
"It needs to be highlighted and that you should not brush it under the carpet," she added.
To donate visit https://join.ovarian.org.uk/fundraisers/josscook/virtual