Late in 2020, I went to Accident & Emergency (A&E) with stomach pains. I had a computerized tomography (CT) scan which showed a mass in my pelvic cavity the size of a grapefruit.
It was determined that my appendix had ruptured at some point and it had turned cancerous. The cancer had also spread to other organs. It was one of my ovaries that had become the size of a grapefruit!The cancer also produced this hard jelly-like substance called mucin.
After numerous CT scans it was decided I should go to the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital for treatment as they are specialists in the removal and treatment of this particular cancer.
I travelled from my home in Essex to Basingstoke for my first appointment with my consultant surgeon, Mr Alex Tzivanakis. He told me that I would have to have a major operation. It would take approximately 11-12 hours in length. During the surgery, he expected I would have to have my abdominal lining removed, a full hysterectomy, my spleen, gallbladder and appendix removed. My liver would have to have all its surface burnt off. The huge amount of cancerous jelly would have to be scooped out and then I’d be filled with a chemo wash* and left to soak for a while to try and kill off any remaining cancer.
I think I handled the news quite well, it was a lot to take in. I knew I needed the operation or I was going to die. I have a high pain threshold so I was determined I was going to get through it. I had swollen up and looked 15 months pregnant.
In December 2020, I went into hospital. I decided to air on the side of caution and write a will and letters to my loved ones, just in case.
I woke up with a tube up my nose and down my throat which was to help with any sickness so it could be drawn off my stomach. During the operation I had 18 litres of mucin and fluid removed, they also managed to save my bowel for the time being.
After the operation, I had six drains in total. There were three drains coming out of each side of me to drain off any remaining fluid. I felt like I’d been assimilated!
A day later I was told I needed to stand up and walk to my chair and after a few days I was able to move around. I needed a nurse each side of me to carry my fluid bottles when I went for a little walk. I couldn’t eat anything for nearly three weeks. I only started eating a few days before I went home. Having my drains removed and my 100 odd metal staples taken out of my tummy was fantastic! I could finally wash my hair and have a shower after three weeks.
I had gone from 18½ stone to 13½ stone. I lost five stone!
It’s now three and a half years later and I still have a small amount of cancer left in my abdomen. I am constantly monitored by Mr Alex and his team at Basingstoke hospital so any future procedures such as having my bowel removed will again be done by Mr Alex and his team.
This is my story.
The chemo wash Claire received was HIPEC – hyperthermic peritoneal chemotherapy.