A 27-year- old with the BRCA 1 gene mutation battles ovarian cancer (or as she refers to it “Cyril” in her ovaries)
Laura, a bright and beautiful 27-year- old teacher from Mill Hill, has taken the community by storm with her new website called ‘Finding Cyril.’
Laura has recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She carries the BRCA 1 gene mutation and has been blogging to spread awareness about these important issues. Her blog has so far had over 24,000 views in the last seven weeks, from people all over the world.
Explaining her story, Laura says, “About two months ago I was getting terrible stomach pains to the point where I had to pull my car over on the way to work one morning. I could only get a phone appointment with the GP, who told me it was likely to be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and simply referred me to an NHS gastroenterologist with a 3-month waiting list after two routine tests. I didn’t feel happy with the diagnosis, especially given the level of pain that I was in. My stomach had also started to become very bloated, to the point where I was looking pregnant.” This led to the first A and E visit. The A and E GP examined Laura’s tummy and said that it was not her ovaries and she was just badly constipated. She recommended a myriad of laxatives.
Rather than wait for 3 months, Laura went to a private gastroenterologist, who again put the symptoms down to IBS and said that it was not her ovaries, and prescribed Movicol. Eventually, a second late night visit to A&E (due to severe stomach and back pains) led to Laura having a number of tests and scans that suggested abnormalities in her ovaries. She was transferred to The Royal Marsden Hospital, and following more tests, Laura was diagnosed with stage 3 Ovarian Cancer.
“From that point on, my life started to change so quickly. I began chemotherapy just a few days after the diagnosis.” She continues by saying, “It definitely takes getting used to, but you somehow begin to fall into a new routine with chemo. One of the coolest things (excuse the pun) is that I’m able to wear a scalp-cooling helmet on my head during chemo sessions which increases the chance of me keeping my hair during treatment.” Laura explains that it is it difficult to know whether the effectiveness of the cooling cap will change over chemo, but for Laura trying these things helps her feel like she is able to be proactive and have some control in a situation where lots of things are out of her control.
So where did the name Cyril come from?
“While I was waiting to have the cancer diagnosis confirmed, my dad suggested that we rename cancer ‘Cyril,’ which somehow made it easier to cope during that really difficult wait for the diagnosis. It seemed to help, so I just continued using it. So now when I’m talking about going to chemotherapy sessions I can say, “Oh, I’m off to fight Cyril today!”
Laura’s blog documents her journey with ovarian cancer and the amazing support she gets from family, friends and the whole team looking after her care at the Royal Marsden Hospital. She finds it helps in creating a dialogue with her family and friends so everyone is up-to- date. More importantly for her though, it is a way to achieve the goal she has now set for herself. That is to say, to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and the symptoms that women of all ages should be looking out for.
As well as using her blog to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, the former Immanuel College pupil has also been raising awareness about the BRCA gene mutations through her blog, a radio show and with charities such as Ovarian Cancer Action.
The BRCA gene mutation
Laura found out last year that out she had inherited the BRCA 1 gene mutation from her father. BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations cause an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women, as well as increasing the risk of breast and prostate cancer in men.
If you have several cases of breast or ovarian cancer in your family you can request a referral from your GP for genetic testing. Women who test positive for a BRCA gene mutation will be eligible for free breast screening on the NHS from the age of 30.
Love your ovaries campaign
Laura has started the “Love Your Ovaries” campaign, which aims to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and encourages women of all ages to be aware of the symptoms to look out for. The campaign is run through Facebook and Instagram and so far people from all over the world have been getting involved…including Minnie Mouse!
So how can you get involved?
1. Take a #loveyourovaries photo
2. List some of the symptoms that you know are associated with ovarian cancer
3. Post it on Facebook and tag some of your friends to do the same. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #loveyourovaries
4. If you want donate to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, text FICY58 and the
amount (e.g. £2) to 70070
You can use the text below with you #loveyourovaries photo.
Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain, constant and increasing abdominal bloating, difficulty eating and the urge to wee more often. I know the symptoms of ovarian cancer. NAMES OF THE PEOPLE YOU NOMINATE- Do you? What symptoms can you name? Spread awareness and show love for your ovaries with a ‘Love your ovaries photo’. If you want to donate to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, text FICY58 £2 to 70070 to donate. findingcyril.com #FindingCyril @FindingCyril
To find out more have a look at Laura’s blog Finding Cyril
To contact Laura directly, click here.
My Opinion: Laura, I think you are such a fantastic role model for young girls and a shining light in our community. I admire your strength and courage and ask everyone to get behind the ‘Love Your Ovaries’ campaign as much as possible!
G-d Bless you my boobalahs,
The Jewish Mother