And Jane Hatfield is using her story to beat such myths and misconceptions this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
BY OVACOME/JANE HATFIELD. LEAD IMAGE PHIL GAMMON, JANE HATFIELD PICTURED TOP LEFT.
There are many myths around ovarian cancer, and one is that women-loving-women (or anyone with ovaries, for that matter) may be less at risk because they do not, or perhaps don’t often, have penetrative sex with men.
Jane Hatfield is using March’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to dispel some of those misapprehensions about the disease. Jane, who lives in Forest Hill, London with her wife and two children (pictured below), says she confused her symptoms with the menopause.
The 52-year-old chief executive of a professional membership body for doctors and nurses is joining 11 other models in the Touch Of Teal Tea catwalk event for the ovarian cancer support charity Ovacome (lead image, above). All involved in the event have been diagnosed with the disease.
Jane discovered her ovarian cancer after a routine scan to check out her bloating and low energy which she thought were peri-menopausal symptoms.
“I was not feeling quite my normal self,” says Jane, who had wanted to see a gynaecologist to discuss going on hormone replacement therapy.
“I didn’t have my normal levels of energy and was feeling a bit uncomfortable with some bloating, so we decided it would be a good idea if I had a pelvic scan to be on the safe side,” says Jane.
The scan showed what looked like cysts on the ovaries, prompting further investigation that led to Jane receiving a diagnosis of stage 3c ovarian cancer in January 2019.
The vague symptoms of ovarian cancer often means that women, like Jane, are diagnosed late stage, says Ovacome. And so it is important to remember the charity’s BEAT acronym of what to look out for:
B is for bloating that is persistent/does not come and go;
E is for eating difficulties and feeling fuller;
A is for abdominal or pelvic pain you feel most days, and
T is for toilet changes, bowel or bladder.
If you have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, while it is unlikely you have ovarian cancer, it is worth getting checked by your GP. A simple CA125 blood test can identify whether further investigation is needed for the possibility of ovarian cancer.
Just over a year after being diagnosed Jane is now married to her long-term partner Gali (their wedding above) and she has recovered from surgery and chemotherapy which left her with no residual disease. She is back to work and determined to smash some of the misconceptions about the disease:
“I thought I was too young to get ovarian cancer, having not gone through the menopause, but I was wrong,” says Jane.
She is now on a trial to keep the cancer at bay and is on a mission to educate others about the disease. “As a bisexual woman with a female partner and children I hope I can help to increase the visibility of LGBT+ women and parents with this disease,” she says.
“It has been tough being forced to face up to the sheer physical and emotional impact and to engage with the likelihood of a recurrence.
“Initially it was pretty devastating as I was a healthy, active, busy mum and CEO so it was very hard to take it in. Thinking about the kids – Saul aged 11 and Alma just eight – was the hardest thing.
“I am getting more used to the diagnosis now.”
If you are concerned about ovarian cancer contact Ovacome’s Freephone support line on 0800 008 7054 or visit ovacome.org.uk today
DIVA magazine celebrates 26 years on the newsstands in 2020. Get behind LGBTQI media and help us celebrate another 26, at least. Your support is invaluable. Get the latest issue here now.