AS a keen sportswoman, Sam Gooding knew something was wrong when her stomach started getting larger.
Initially she was diagnosed with stress and irritable bowel syndrome, leading to a diet overhaul, but her stomach still grew so much she looked several months pregnant.
Finally Ms Gooding insisted on further tests in May 2011, which revealed the then 28-year-old’s whole left ovary was a borderline cancerous mass.
As her tumour was largely liquid, it was measured in litres – three to be exact.
Surgery followed to remove the entire ovary and avoid chemotherapy, but Ms Gooding knew she was very lucky.
“I ended up having to be pushy but I know my own body,” Ms Gooding said.
She said women with ovarian cancer symptoms, which can be quite vague, should be checked out immediately.
“The worst thing is you could feel a bit silly, but wouldn’t you rather know? Knowledge is power.”
February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, with Teal Ribbon Day next Wednesday.
Each day, four Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three die from the disease.
It has the lowest cancer survival rate, but there is currently no test for the disease, with symptoms including abdominal or pelvic pain, persistent abdominal bloating, the need to urinate often or feeling full after eating a small amount.
Luckily, Ms Gooding is one of the success stories.
Just six months after her treatment, Ms Gooding fell pregnant with daughter Poppy, now 16 months, who has been sporting teal-coloured toenails at childcare all this month.
Mrs Gooding praised her strong support network, including partner Sam Bell, for getting her through her ordeal.
Ms Gooding’s colleagues at Ballarat High School, where she teaches English, organised a nightly meal roster.
“That was what made me really emotional.”
Ms Gooding said women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, or who thought they might have ovarian cancer, should always take someone to medical appointments with them.
“The first time I knew they thought it was cancer was when I saw it on the sheet when I was having a blood test. Always take someone with you because you just don’t take everything
Teal ribbons are available for $2 from Chemmart Pharmacies and Brazilian Butterfly salons to support ovarian cancer research.