Patient friends battle cancer with help from the experts

They are two young Doncaster woman who faced a health bombshell when they were diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Sunday, 2nd October 2016, 2:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:34 pm
Cancer patients Tania and Lesley

But now, they and a close pal from Newark, have told of their gratitude to the South Yorkshire medics who have battled to help them as they fought the illness.

Tania Kemble-Smith, Caitilin Carroll, both from Doncaster, and pal Lindsey Holland from Newark, formed a close bond as they battled ovarian germ cell cancer - a cancer so rare it accounts for only one or two per cent of cancers of the ovaries.

Each received a diagnosis of ovarian germ cell cancer this year, with symptoms that could easily have been missed without vigorous tests.

Mum-of-two Tania Kemble-Smith, aged 38, from Doncaster, had no symptoms. She was diagnosed in July 2016 after a physio session following a car accident revealed a hard swelling in her lower abdomen.

“It’s scary to think that if I hadn’t being involved in a road accident I might never have found the cancerous lump,” said Tania “I had experienced no other symptoms, so the car accident may end up saving my life.”

Tania, whose cancer has been graded as stage three after it spread to her pelvis and bowel, is now on her final cycle of intense chemotherapy treatment and will undergo surgery later this year.

She said: “The team at Weston Park Hospital have been absolutely brilliant and I definitely feel like I’m in the best hands being treated by the specialist ovarian germ cell treatment team in the north of the country.”

“It’s been really reassuring to have two other ladies go through a similar diagnosis as me and we’ve definitely all helped each other through the good and bad days.”

Ovarian germ cell cancer occurs when the cells which develop into sperm and eggs in the ovaries mutate and form cancerous tumours. This very rare cancer occurs mostly in teenagers or young women, although it can affect women in their sixties.

When symptoms do present, they can include abdominal pain, a feeling of fullness, or abdominal swelling with an increased need to pass urine.

Ovarian germ cell cancer cells respond well to treatment, but this can have cut women’s chances of conceiving, depending on their surgery and how many ovaries, if any, need to be removed.

The youngest of the three women, Caitilin Carroll, 18, from Conisbrough, has finished treatment and is awaiting her eight week follow up appointment. She said despite the shock of a cancer diagnosis, she had the best experience possible thanks to the care and support of the team at Weston Park.

A-Level student Caitilin said: “It was so helpful to be able to talk to someone going through the same thing. Tania and I have laughed and cried together but overall it’s meant that neither of us has had to face our diagnosis alone.”

With hopes of going to university next year, Caitilin plans to attend as many music concerts as possible.

“I had to say no to a lot of social events with friends this year because I was going through treatment and at times felt really poorly. My mum’s been my rock throughout and the hospital team made me feel so welcome I’m actually starting to miss their big smiles,” she added.