It took many trips to six separate doctors before Ballarat woman Ashlee Hamm finally found out what was wrong with her.
And, three years after marrying her husband Stephen, it was a cruel blow.
At just 26, Ashlee was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
But her mates at Alfredton Hair and Beauty Salon rallied to her support and this week raised $9000 for research into the cancer many call the silent killer.
Ashlee knew something was amiss when her stomach swelled after returning to Ballarat from an overseas trip in November.
A doctor said it could be a baby, but she knew she wasn’t pregnant because the swelling happened almost overnight.
Another GP suggested she had celiac disease, while others turned her away and said they could not help at all.
It then became more and more difficult for Ashlee to eat.
Finally there was a breakthrough when she visited Victoria Street’s Ballarat Group Practice to get the opinion of a sixth doctor, who looked down at her stomach and immediately raised the alarm.
This doctor was the first to realise it was fluid causing the bloating.
Rushed into hospital, medical staff drained a whopping 11 litres of fluid from Ashlee, causing sudden weight loss.
It was then a doctor walked in with her test results.
“It’s not good, you’ve got stage three ovarian cancer.”
But Ashlee has remained strong since her December diagnosis with the help of her husband Stephen, family and many friends.
She has now stressed the value in having a regular GP.
“Before my diagnosis, I didn’t have a proper GP that I went to consistently,” she said.
“If I had, I think they would’ve been able to tell something was not right.
“It’s also important to push doctors to do something if you feel like something is really wrong.”
Tragically, it was too late for Ashlee to have her eggs stored.
But she’s now focusing on her recovery, having just finished her second round of chemotherapy on Monday.
And the cancer has receded.
“You can’t live everyday thinking it might come back … if it comes, it comes,” Ashlee said.
Alfredton Hair and Beauty Salon manager Liana Ryan said when she asked her friend if there was anything she could do, Ashlee said she did not want money or presents.
Instead, she wanted to raise money for ovarian cancer research. Liana and her team delivered, raising $9000 on Saturday.
Ovarian Cancer Australia will also host a massage marathon at Lake Health Group at Howitt Street on May 7.
For further information, call Jane Mason on 0498 990 497.