• Julia Sidwell

My exam stress was cancer

Chloe has been through so much at such a young age, and at a very important time in her life - during her GCSEs. She was stressed about getting good grades and kept getting stomach pains. Then when she was sick and collapsed, she was rushed into hospital where it was revealed her stress was actually ovarian cancer.

ovarian cancer take a break health magazine

Thankfully Chloe is doing well now and she wanted to share her story to raise awareness so we got her story published in Britain's biggest selling women's weekly magazine, Take a Break.

She says:

"I put my knife and fork down and rubbed my stomach.

‘I feel horrible,’ I told my mum Gillian.

I’d been feeling unwell for a while. After eating, I’d become bloated and feel sick.

I went to see my GP who said: ‘It might be IBS.’

She suggested I keep an eye on how my body reacted to certain foods, but it didn’t help.

I was bloated all the time and I was sure the stress I was under while studying for my exams wasn’t helping. I’d been revising hard, keen to get good grades.

A month later, I was in my final GCSE drama rehearsal when my chest suddenly tightened and I was gasping for breath.

I was having a panic attack.

As I fell to the floor, my friend rushed to my side.

‘I’ll ring your boyfriend,’ my teacher said.

Draven didn’t drive but he ran two miles in the pouring rain to come and see me.

When he arrived, he looked alarmed.

‘Are you OK?’ he said.

‘I’ll be alright,’ I said.

Later at home, Mum looked after me while I was sick.

‘You’ve been working so hard,’ she said. ‘This stress can’t be good for you.’

‘I know,’ I replied. ‘And I’ve got an exam tomorrow.’

I decided to get an early night.

But in the early hours, I woke gripping my stomach.

I was going to be sick again.

I clambered out from under the duvet and as I did, my legs went from underneath me.

‘Mum!’ I cried.

I got up but the room was spinning and I collapsed again.

Next thing I knew I was being sick while drifting in and out of consciousness.

I managed to crawl over to my bedroom door and bang on it, in an attempt to get Mum’s attention.

Finally, she heard and rushed into my room.

‘Oh Chloe,’ she said.

I was crumpled up on the floor, foaming at the mouth.

She helped me into bed but within minutes I was being sick again, this time a thick orange liquid.

‘That’s it,’ Mum said. ‘I’m taking you to A&E.’

At hospital, doctors thought I might have a burst appendix.

Then after an ultrasound scan, a doctor said: ‘We’ve found a cyst on your left ovary.’

My heart began to race.

‘Is it serious?’ Mum asked the doctor.

‘We need to remove it so we can test it,’ he said.

Days later, in between sitting my exams, I had the operation.

Afterwards, a consultant came to see me.

‘The cyst was the size of a rugby ball,’ he said. ‘It had stretched your left ovary so we had to remove that too, along with your fallopian tube,’ he added.

I nodded, trying to take everything in.

‘I’m 99.9% sure the cyst isn’t cancerous though,’ he said. ‘You’re 16 so it’s very unlikely.’

Days later, we returned for the results.

‘You have stage one ovarian cancer,’ the consultant said.

While Mum sobbed, I sat in silent shock.

I began six cycles of carboplatin, a type of chemotherapy. And as I sat with the cannula in my hand, it suddenly dawned on me.

I have cancer.

I was particularly concerned about my future with Draven. I’d always wanted children yet now I wasn’t sure it was even possible.

My life became a whirl of hospital appointments and I missed out on seeing my friends. My exam results also suffered – because I hadn’t been able to sit half of them.

I was gutted, but knew my health had to take priority.

Luckily, I got into college to study Citizenship, Creative Writing and Media Studies.

I’ve been given the all clear and doctor have said that my exam stress triggered my symptoms meaning if I hadn’t fallen ill, the cyst might never have been found.

I’ve been told to start trying to conceive sooner than I’d planned, but I’m feeling good and am excited about the future."

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