“I am 24 and I don’t know how to say it, I just want to be alive. I don’t want to die.”

 – Kristen, who has terminal ovarian cancer

Kristen’s journey began when she was 21 years old and enjoying a working holiday in London with her big sister, Elsa. Over the period of a few weeks, she’d been suffering from some pretty severe cramping which led her straight to a GP and then to the emergency department for some further testing.

“On November 13, 2013, a phone call changed my life. I was told my results were ready, and to bring a loved one to the hospital with me.”

Soon enough, the seriousness of her situation was revealed. One minute, she was sitting in front of the doctor. The next minute, everything was in slow motion. Kristen was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.

 

“It seemed strange how the word cancer automatically brought up so much emotion and heartache, it was like nothing I’d been confronted with before”.

Fast forward through months of chemotherapy treatments to reduce the tumours, an intensive 11 hour surgery, which involved a full hysterectomy and the removal of her large bowel, followed by months of complications and rehabilitation, she was declared in remission. Free of cancer and free to once again explore the world with Elsa by her side.

This freedom lasted until midway through 2015, when follow up scans discovered that her cancer had recurred in other organs. Kristen is now 24 years old, fighting for her life and living back in Brisbane.

“It’s like asking for someone to give me more time in life. It might be giving money but I think what people don’t really realise is that money can actually translate into life. That means more time spent with your family, more time that the cancer’s trying to rob you of.   Money and research can extend that time. That’s invaluable because you can’t put a price on life.”

“I want to do whatever I can to bring awareness to this awful disease and other women who are living with cancer. I’m on a clinical trial at the moment and every scan is nerve wracking because we don’t know if these drugs are going to stop working.”

Ovarian cancer is hard to diagnose early and Kristen’s had spread aggressively. But there is hope. We’ve been able to fund some incredible research projects like the work of Professor Judith Clements.

Professor Clements and her team have made some breakthrough discoveries about how ovarian cancer spreads so easily and so quickly. They’ve also found that the body’s genes and enzymes can be used to stop the spread of the disease.

But we need to make sure that we keep funding research like this which can lead to breakthroughs and access to clinical trials for more people like Kristen.

Cancer Council Queensland also offers support and information to all Queenslanders affected by cancer. If you have been affected, or know someone that is, please know we’re here to help. For information and support, phone 13 11 20, Monday to Friday.

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If you have been moved by Kristen’s story, please donate today to help fund research that could give people like her more time. All donations over $2.00 are tax deductable.