Newcastle teacher battling ‘silent killer’ cancer calls for more awareness of the disease

A primary school teacher battling a cancer known as the “silent killer” has called for more awareness of the disease.

Emma Durkin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after suffering from barely any of the symptoms. The 48-year-old, from West Denton, Newcastleinitially thought she was starting the menopause when her periods became irregular.

She started to suffer from pain and was told that she had an abscess on her right ovary which needed to be drained. Medics at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) also found a cyst on her left ovary and removed them both during key hole surgery. They took a biopsy during the procedure which revealed she had ovarian cancer.

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Emma has undergone a major operation to remove the cancer and is currently having chemotherapy, which has caused her to lose her hair. She is concerned that women are not as aware of ovarian cancer as other types of cancer, as it is not spoken about enough.

Emma has called for more awareness of ovarian cancer
Emma has called for more awareness of ovarian cancer

The mum-of-two said: “I didn’t know that much about ovarian cancer. I think some women do think the smear test covers every single kind of gynaecological cancer but it doesn’t find ovarian cancer. I think there does need to be more awareness.

“I saw this feature on Lorraine all about breast cancer, which is great, but I thought to myself where is the awareness of ovarian cancer. You don’t hear about it as much as breast cancer.

“If it’s the silent killer why isn’t there more awareness of it? You see leaflets for breast cancer. Why isn’t there more of that for ovarian cancer?

“I didn’t know there was an ovarian cancer month in March, there’s no awareness of it.”

Emma is currently going through chemotherapy
Emma is currently going through chemotherapy

Emma first visited A&E at the hospital in Newcastle on January 7 after she felt a sharp pain in her womb which left her unable to move. She had an MRI scan and was informed that she had an abscess on her ovary and given some antibiotics.

Four months later, on May 17, she started to suffer from pain in her left kidney. Emma returned to the hospital where she had another MRI scan and was told the abscess had returned and was wrapped around her kidney and her bowel. Three days later, she had key hole surgery to remove the abscess, a cyst and to take a biopsy.

Emma, ​​who is mum to Laura, 30, and Daniel, 27, underwent further surgery to remove the cancer on July 4. She had a hysterectomy to remove her womb and surgeons also took away some of her lymph nodes and her stomach muscle, leaving her with a 40cm wound up her stomach.

Emma's scar following surgery
Emma’s scar following surgery

She is now in the process of having six rounds of chemotherapy. Emma has urged women to get checked out if they have any issues and not to be scared of having treatment such as chemotherapy.

Emma, ​​who is also grandmother to Zak, five, Daisy, three, and Violet, two, said: “I lost my hair after my first round of chemotherapy and that’s been really hard, a lot harder than I thought it was going to be It’s taken me until this week to fully embrace it.

“I would say to others don’t be frightened because it’s not as bad as what you think. The nurses are so lovely and everyone around me was in the same position. The first dose was absolutely brutal but once I got the dosage reduced it was better.

“I think once you have a couple of rounds you know what it’s going to feel like. You’re tired and you do get aches and pains. You need support and people around you.”

According to the NHSthe main symptoms of ovarian cancer are a swollen tummy or feeling bloated, no appetite or feeling full quickly, pain or tenderness in your tummy and an urgent need to pee or needing to pee more often.

Other symptoms can include indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea, back pain, feeling tired all the time, losing weight without trying and bleeding from the vagina after the menopause.

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