3 ladies who formed a close bond throughout cancer treatment say they will do all they can to support Weston Park Hospital and the cancer charity to increase awareness of their disease.
Tania, Kam and Lindsey during treatment at Weston Park Hospital
The determined trio, Tania, Lindsey and Caitilin, were all diagnosed with Ovarian Germ Cell cancer this year after experiencing a range of symptoms that could easily have been missed if it wasn’t for vigorous tests. At different stages throughout the year, all three women received life-saving treatment at Weston Park Hospital.
Ovarian germ cell cancer occurs when the cells which develop into sperm and eggs in the ovaries mutate and form cancerous tumours. Ovarian germ cell cancers are very rare and account for only about 1 or 2% of cancers of the ovary and are most common in teenagers or young women, although they can also occur in women in their 60’s.
With symptoms that can be easily misdiagnosed or associated with other less- serious conditions, ovarian germ cell cancers are notoriously hard to spot. When symptoms present, they can include abdominal pain, a feeling of fullness or abdominal swelling with an increased need to pass urine.
Mum of 2, Tania Kemble-Smith (38) from Doncaster was diagnosed with Ovarian germ cell Cancer in July 2016 after a physio session following a car accident revealed a hard swelling in her lower abdomen.
“It’s scary to think that if I hadn’t being involved in a road accident- I might never have found the cancerous lump,” said Tania. “Aside from the growth, I had experienced no other symptoms, so in a strange turn of events, the car accident may end up saving my life.”
Tania, whose cancer has been graded as Stage 3 after spreading to her pelvis and bowel is currently on her final cycle of intense Chemotherapy treatment at Weston Park Hospital and will undergo surgery later this year to prevent any potential reoccurrence.
She continued, “The team at Weston Park Hospital have been absolutely brilliant throughout my treatment and I definitely feel like I’m in the best hands being treated by the specialist ovarian germ cell treatment team in the north of the country.”
“It’s been really reassuring to have 2 other ladies go through a similar diagnosis around the same time as me and we’ve definitely all helped each other through the good and bad days.”
After treatment and surgery, Tania is hoping to support the work of the Cancer Charity, to help raise funds to support others fighting cancer as well as awareness of her cancer type.
Although very rare, ovarian germ cell cancer cells respond very well to treatment and patients have an excellent chance of surviving their disease. However, treatment for this cancer type can have an adverse effect on ladies chances of conceiving, depending on their surgery type and how many ovaries, if any, are needed to be removed as part of their treatment.
Lindsey Holland (27) from Newark was also diagnosed with Ovarian germ cell cancer in May 2016 after experiencing a pain in her side. She was referred to the specialist team at Weston Park Hospital, where her diagnosis left her with concerns surrounding fertility.
Lindsey, a secondary school teacher said, “It’s been incredibly hard to comprehend and adjust to my new situation.”
“Cancer wasn’t part of any of our plans this year and it really does hit you like a tidal wave. I’m still looking at my fertility options whilst having chemotherapy treatment but it definitely puts everything into perspective.
Weston Park Hospital is one of only a handful of specialist cancer hospitals in England and treats patients from all over South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and North Derbyshire – a population of almost 1.8million people.
Throughout 2016 the cancer charity will fund various projects to enable the continued improvement of Weston Park Hospital; including the expansion of research studies, improving the way cancer treatments are delivered and supporting the ongoing care provisions of patients and their families affected by cancer.
All at different stages of their journey, Tania, Lindsey and Caitilin have supported each other throughout treatment, offering a friendly ear and valuable support whenever needed.
The youngest of the 3 ladies, Caitilin Carroll (18) from Conisbrough, who has now finished treatment and is awaiting her 8 week follow up appointment, said that despite the initial shock of receiving a cancer diagnosis, she had the best experience possible thanks to the care and support of the specialised team at Weston Park Hospital.
Caitlin, who is currently studying for her A levels said, “It was so helpful to be able to talk to someone going through the same thing as me. Tania and I have laughed and cried together but overall it’s meant that neither of us has had to face our diagnosis alone.”
With hopes of going to University next year, Caitilin is now adamant not to let her difficult year hold her back and plans to make the most of her college years, attending as many music concerts as possible.
“I had to say no to a lot of social events with my friends this year because I was going through treatment and at times felt really poorly. My mum’s been my rock throughout it all and the team at the hospital made me feel so welcome that I’m actually starting to miss seeing their big smiles!”
Clinical Nurse Specialist at Weston Park Hospital, Kam Singh, who has played an instrumental part in treating all three ladies, alongside her team including Dr Linda Evans, Annie Hills, Sarah Gillett and Jane Ireson said, “The UK malignant ovarian germ cell tumour service was established in 2013 and comprises a multi-disciplinary team based in London (Charing Cross Hospital) and Sheffield (Weston Park Hospital).
This provides both clinical and psychological care as well as specialist advice for outside health care professionals involved in giving care to women with this cancer type.
“Ovarian germs cell cancers are a spectrum of rare related disorders arising from the germ cells most frequently located in the ovary and is estimated to affect about 60 new cases per year in England.
“The reason for establishing this national service at Weston Park Hospital was due to the rarity of the disease making centralised care necessary to ensure adequate skill levels within the treating teams. Without this, high cure rates cannot be achieved.”
The cancer charity is proud to support many projects within Weston Park Hospital, including the running of both the Cancer Support Centre and the Clinical Trials Centre.
Charity Director, Samantha Kennedy said, “It’s when we read stories as powerful as this one that we see the real impact services delivered by Weston Park Hospital are having on cancer patients, not just within our region, but across the country.”
“With the generosity of our supporters, the cancer charity is proud to continue supporting this vital service so that patients can receive specialised care and access the most pioneering treatments, giving them the best possible chance of survival.”
To support research into all cancer types at Weston Park Hospital visit: www.wphcc.org.uk/research