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Regina was diagnosed with BRCA2 gene positive ovarian cancer in 2016. Two time survivor, Regina is currently at stage three ovarian cancer.
It was a normal enough day for Regina. She ran a successful cleaning business and it was in the middle of a washing machine emergency when Regina felt something was wrong.
“I had lifted up a washing machine that had fallen, and felt a sharp pain in my side. I thought I had just strained my back so went to my local general practitioner (GP) for advice. While there, she felt something, and didn’t like the feel of it and that set the ball in motion,” said Regina.
Undergoing several ultrasounds days later, once the results came back, under suspicion, Regina’s GP sent her to a gynaecologist.
“Dr Michael Mastry ran a CA125 test which checks for early signs of cancers in your ovaries, uterus and cervix. When these results came back he said, ‘No, I’m going to have to refer you to Dr Lew Perrin because there is something on your ovaries’.”
The results were in. Regina had ovarian cancer.
She was diagnosed a few weeks before Christmas, and like many a busy mum, she ‘didn’t have time for this’.
But it all happened so fast. From the day she received her diagnosis, met with Dr Perrin, and was booked in for surgery at Mater Private Hospital, was just less than two weeks.
“Even at that stage we had no idea of the severity of my diagnoses. I was consulted that I would undergo a laparoscopy—keyhole surgery used to inspect the pelvic and stomach areas—to ‘just have a look at [your ovaries] and take a sample if needed’. The whole time I kept thinking it would be alright as it was probably just cysts on the ovaries because nothing could be wrong as I was too busy to go through this right now.”
Her procedure ended up not just taking a sample but became a debulking surgery where as much of the cancerous tissue in a patient is removed as possible. Regina also had her appendix removed, as a precaution, due to how close the cancer cells had grown.
Regina wanted to help ovarian cancer research as much as possible, for women diagnosed in the future. She donated her samples to Mater Research.
“I really wanted to donate my samples, so anything that the doctors and researchers could find out might later help even more women.”
As a direct result of her generous donation, Mater Researchers have been able to make advances identifying and tracing ovarian cancer cells, some of which are currently undergoing clinical trials.
Regina’s slough with cancer wasn’t finished. In 2019 she felt those same side pains. She didn’t try to talk herself out of it this time—she went straight to her GP. As it is so rare to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer twice, her GP sent her to another three GPs for multiple opinions on everything but ovarian cancer. She kept asking them to do another ultrasound.
“If you think something is wrong with your body, go and get it checked. Don’t wait. And keep onto your doctor that something is wrong. I asked till they sent me for another CA125 test.”
You often hear that cancer is hereditary and this very well may be the case for Regina, but she was the first in her family to be diagnosed. Since her second brush with cancer, her daughter and her sister have undergone testing and also have tested positive for the BRCA2 gene.
“My hope with sharing my story is that women will become more aware that they could be carrying the gene and to go get tested.”
Regina’s story could have ended very differently and sadly for many women with ovarian cancer, this is the case. We want to close the gap in ovarian cancer. We can’t do it without you. Your generous gift helps more women, and the continued treatment of women like Regina.
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