One hairdresser thought her weight loss and menstrual problems were stressful – but in fact it was a rare ovarian cancer.
Sarah Burns, the hairdresser at Terence Paul Hairdressing in Knutsford, was diagnosed with mucinous ovarian cancer (MOC) in August 2020 at the age of just 25 after showing symptoms in December 2019.
Sarah said that she was bleeding between her periods, her cycle also became shorter, and she began to lose weight, which she attributed to stress.
However, the young woman said her “stomach” said she should go to the doctors.
Top Story: “Kind” and “Caring” teenager, 18, who died in a fall from the Runcorn Bridge, which was locally named
She said, “My story starts in December 2019 when I was bleeding between my periods and my cycle got shorter and I started losing weight.
“I initially put it down to stress, but my stomach told me to see a doctor.
“The doctor did a complete blood draw and had an ultrasound scan ‘just in case he had cancer’.
“In all honesty, I didn’t even think it was a distant possibility; I was young, fit, and ate well.
“Now, months after my diagnosis, I will be eternally grateful to this special doctor for her quick action, as I know with many women, which normally does not and leads to a late diagnosis.”
Sarah endured tests, treatments, and surgeries for more than a year, including an ultrasound scan that found a 4-inch (4-inch) mass on her left ovary.
Then she was told by doctors that she had a rare ovarian cancer called Mucinous Ovarian Cancer (MOC).
After she was diagnosed with cancer, her left ovary and fallopian tube were surgically removed to make sure the disease had not spread outside of the pelvis.
After extensive treatment, Sarah is now free from cancer, but lives with the fear of returning.
The hairdresser has also undergone two rounds of IVF to save eggs and has decided against chemotherapy for the time being as it would destroy her hopes for natural children and it doesn’t work as well against MOCs either.
The hairdresser also had to take a break for almost a year and is happy about her return and thanks her employers and colleagues for the “fantastic support”.
Due to the rarity of MOCs, it is estimated that only around 200 diagnoses are made per year in the UK and there is no active research or clinical trials.
This is a position Sarah is determined to change.
The hairdresser has started her own fundraiser for much-needed research into the disease to help other women like her.
Sarah started the MOC project, an initiative to raise awareness and promote UK’s first cancer research.
She said her goal was to get the scientific community interested in research into cancer and raise the funds necessary to get the work started.
Sarah said, “I’m extremely passionate and refuse to wait to see if my cancer returns and if I get the same dire prognosis five years later.
“I am determined to make the change for women like me. Ovarian cancer is non-discriminatory and can affect women of all ages. “
There is currently no screening test for ovarian cancer, and it is often misdiagnosed, resulting in only 15 percent of patients being diagnosed at stage 1 when it is most treatable.
Sarah added, “It is so important to take care of your own health. That is, I take control of my situation and do something about it, sometimes it’s hard, but I don’t let it win. “
The Knutsford hairdresser has already raised £ 7,500 despite the pandemic forcing a sponsored bike tour from London to Paris to be canceled and has a special ticketing event later this month where she plans to double that amount.
She said, “I hope ovarian cancer will follow in breast cancer’s footsteps and receive much-needed funding to save the lives of women.
“I hope the campaign will give us some momentum to get a UK gynecological charity to support the grant as there is massive inequality in ovarian cancer funding and it seems like MOC has just been forgotten.
“I hope someone will come by and be interested in researching treatment options as these are very limited right now.”
Since sharing her story on social media and starting the fundraiser, Sarah has been contacted by other stakeholders in the UK and around the world and she hopes the project can be a source of support for women in a similar position.
She also urged all women to seek medical advice early on if they suspect something was wrong.
To donate to Sarah’s fundraising page, please click here.
Now she’s finalizing plans for August 21st fundraising day with food, games, drag act and DJ at the John Alker Club in Flixton, Manchester.