A FORMER Ilkley Grammar School student has shared her story of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer to raise awareness of the UK’s deadliest gynaecological disease.

Emma Harling, who was brought up in Burley-in-Wharfedale, never considered that she may be at risk of ovarian cancer at the age of just 20. Both Emma and her doctors assumed she had IBS, until they she found a 22cm tumour in her ovaries.

She said: “It all started earlier in the year when I started having to get up to wee a lot during the night, feeling sick all the time, and losing my appetite. The doctors and I both put it down to IBS, never in my life did I think it would be cancer.

“Then, my stomach ballooned so big that I looked eight months pregnant. I knew something was wrong. The doctors referred me for all sorts of tests, ruling out coeliac disease etc. My mum is a nurse and involved with the “Be Clear on Cancer” campaign, so she noticed the worrying signs. That morning she told me to put CA125 on my blood form. Being paranoid, I googled it straight away and found out that CA125 is a test to look for early signs of ovarian cancer. I assumed the worst.

“Seven hours later the doctor called and said I needed to have a scan. Not wanting to wait I headed straight to A&E. They found a 22cm tumour growing out of my left ovary that was likely to be cancerous.

“I was on my own. No one was with me, no one was there to tell me that everything was going to be ok.

“Fast forward a week and I was going in for a radical debulking surgery as they believed the cancer had spread. The next day I was diagnosed with Germ Cell Yolk Sac ovarian cancer.

“I’m currently doing really well and my chemotherapy is nearly finished. I’m awaiting an operation to remove the bad ovary and Fallopian tube and then that’s me done!

“I want to raise as much awareness as I can around cancer because never in my life did I think it would be me, especially not at 20.”

Emma added: “I couldn’t have got through it without the amazing nurses and doctors who have looked after me, as well as all my family and friends, who have been my rocks.

“I’m now just waiting for get back to work and get on with my life again.”

Ovarian cancer has four main symptoms: persistent stomach pain; persistent bloating; difficulty eating/feeling full more quickly; needing to wee more frequently. Ovarian cancer symptoms might also include: back pain, changes in bowel habits (going more often or a lot less), and extreme tiredness for no obvious reason. If your symptoms are: persistent, severe, frequent, out of the ordinary, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. For more information visit: ovarian.org.uk