Merran Williams was lucky to survive her multiple brushes with cancer.
Merran Williams was lucky to survive her multiple brushes with cancer. Contributed

Ovarian cancer survivor gives warning for other women

MERRAN Williams is one of the lucky ones.

The Buderim woman is one of only 43% of patients who survive ovarian cancer and is eager to raise more awareness of the disease as well as how to best combat it.

"I was first diagnosed eight years ago," Ms Williams said.

"I had surgery, then four months of chemotherapy and was fine for five years.

"Then I found out the cancer had come back about three years ago, and I went back for more surgery and more chemo(therapy).

"This time last year, I found out I had breast cancer.

"I'm a survivor."

With up to 20% of cases linked to genetic predisposition, Ms Williams said she believed it was worthwhile for those who had been diagnosed to get genetically tested for the BRCA gene, which had been associated with increased risk of ovarian and breast cancers.

The mother-of-three said once she discovered she had a BRCA gene, she found out two of her children and both of her sisters also carried it.

"So it's like you unpack this Pandora's box," she said.

"For me, that's quite interesting."

Ovarian Cancer Australia said early detection of the cancer was key, hence why being aware if you were genetically predisposed to this types of diseases was important.

Its figures showed those who were diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer had an 80% chance of survival after five years, but about 75% of women were only diagnosed in the cancer's advanced stages.

The organisation's CEO, Jan Hill, said women needed to be more aware of their family's health history and be vigilant about spotting the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

"The numbers are telling - too many women are dying from this devastating disease," she said.

The four key symptoms are; abdominal or pelvic pain, persistent abdominal bloating, needing to urinate often or urgently and feeling full after eating a small amount.

For more information, see www.ovariancancer.net.au.


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