A UK mom is stating that she was misdiagnosed for three years with postpartum depression before her persistence paid off. She wound up having ovarian cancer.
Claire Thompson, a 38-year-old who gave birth to her daughter in 2013, began having odd symptoms soon after, including bloating, fatigue, and mood swings. She told her doctor but was dismissed as having postnatal depression.
She took their word for it. During this time, her symptoms continued and she even experienced missed periods. As time wore on, Thompson developed excessive bleeding that at first seemed like heavy periods, but it got to the point where she was soaking through multiple pads each hour.
She thought it was because her periods were returning and it was part of the process. For over a year, she dealt with the heavy bleeding. Surgeries to alleviate the bleeding were scheduled and canceled, as health providers considered the procedure to be “elective.”
Finally, in 2016, she was referred to a gynecologist and they found a mass on her left ovary. Initially, it was believed to be a cyst. Weeks went by as specialists performed tests on the mass and Thompson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
In June of that year, she had a full hysterectomy and doctors found three tumors. She was relieved that she had a firm diagnosis but also shocked that the cancer hadn’t spread during those years she was misdiagnosed. Right after the surgery, Thompson began to experience symptoms of menopause.
However, surgery and treatment stopped the disease from spreading. She told Daily Mail:
“When I got told I was in remission, we threw a Christmas party to celebrate – in September. I decorated the entire house and left it up for the rest of the year. I want my daughter to look back and remember that as the year her mum was crazy enough to celebrate Christmas for four months, rather than the year mummy was ill.’
Today, Thompson is thankful to be alive and is celebrating being cancer-free for three years. Listen below to hear her discuss her journey.
Ovarian cancer is one of the hardest types of cancer to diagnose, as no formal screening process exists for it. Symptoms often mimic gastrointestinal ailments or other conditions, leading to late diagnoses and lower rates of survival.
Additionally, as with Thompson’s case, women are less likely to be taken seriously by their health care team even when they know something is off.
Multiple studies have been done that show that women are often misdiagnosed because providers do not listen, or their symptoms present differently than men’s. A piece published on Harvard’s health blog noted that the medical community’s understanding of disease is based on male physiology.
What Mrs. Thompson experienced is far too common. One of the reasons she wanted to share her story is to raise awareness for other women who may being going through the same thing. Listen to your doctor, persist, insist, and make noise if what you’re feeling is beyond abnormal for your body.
Does this woman’s story strike a chord with you? Do you know anyone who has a similar story about ovarian cancer? What about another misdiagnosed condition?