A LOTHIAN grandmother whose ovarian cancer was misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is raising funds for a city research centre in a bid to help other women beat the disease.
For two years, Louise Neville complained of an abnormal pain in her abdomen and pelvis – but doctors failed to check for cancer until 2013 when she told them it felt as though she “was walking about with a baby inside”.
It’s not something the doctors look for, and I knew something wasn’t right – it felt as though I was walking about with a baby inside of me.Louise Neville
A blood test and CT scan showed the 67-year-old from Armadale had a tumour and she was later given the news that her condition was incurable.
Now – after undergoing gruelling, six-month bouts of chemotherapy – Louise is determined to do as much as she can to boost awareness of the illness.
She has just completed a five-kilometre walk to raise money for the Nicola Murray Foundation and the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, and hopes the cash will help ensure sufferers are able to access rapid diagnosis and treatment services.
“Maybe if the doctors had found the cancer sooner it could have been cured,” she said.
“That’s why I want to raise money for the Nicola Murray Centre for Ovarian Cancer Research. I want to help others. Ovarian cancer is a silent killer, and it’s important woman know the signs to look out for.”
Louise was originally diagnosed with IBS in 2011, but did not dwell on it as she was caring for her sister, who was then suffering from breast cancer.
When the pain became more intense, she raised the alarm with her GP, and they were able to feel the tumour.
Louise, who previously worked in Bathgate’s government buildings, said: “I never would have thought I had cancer.
“It’s not something the doctors look for, and I knew something wasn’t right – it felt as though I was walking about with a baby inside of me.”
Accompanied by friends and family, Louise set out on the charity walk from Torphichen to Loch Cote on Sunday, and she said the experience had been hugely beneficial.
“My family have all been so supportive, and the walk on Sunday was great,” she added.
Katherine Taylor, chief executive at Ovarian Cancer Action, said: “Once upon a time it was thought that there were no symptoms for ovarian cancer but we now know that’s simply not true.
“They can, however, be quite subtle and are sometimes mistaken for other problems, such as IBS.
“It’s really important that women learn to listen to and trust their bodies and be persistent with their GP if they think something’s wrong. It can also be useful to keep a diary of your symptoms.”
The Nicola Murray Foundation, for which Louise has been raising money, is a charity whose staff work to fund research projects focused on ovarian cancer and HNPCC – a syndrome that increases the risk of a person developing bowel, womb or ovarian tumours at a young age.
The foundation is collaborating with the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre to increase early-stage detection of individuals who have HNPCC.