With a full-time job, two teenage daughters and a household to run, Natalie Dixon’s fatigue was initially put down to an iron deficiency.
“I thought, ok, early forties, hormones are changing, just feeling tired, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.” Natalie said.
Six months later however, Natalie’s abdomen started swelling at an alarming rate.
“I knew from the radiologist’s tone of voice during my ultrasound that something was very wrong,” she said.
With a large mass on one ovary, Natalie was wheeled into theatre just weeks later, not knowing what her doctors may find.
“It took more than seven hours, and they basically had to remove everything from my abdomen that I didn’t need to survive—a full hysterectomy, so tubes, uterus, ovaries. Tissue from up under my diaphragm and under my ribcage. My cervix was removed, my appendix was removed,” she said.
There was an avocado-sized tumour fused to Natalie’s bowel, giving her surgeon no choice but to remove around 20 centimetres of bowel and then join it back together, leaving her with an ileostomy stoma.
“Looking back on that moment, I feel so bad for asking that. It was so surreal, but she tried so hard to keep that conversation positive for me,” she said.
It’s only now, almost a year after her final round of chemotherapy, that Natalie can truly appreciate how lucky she was to survive.
“By the time I got any physical symptoms, my cancer was off and running. I never knew anything about ovarian cancer before that, but it’s such a scary cancer because survival rates are still so low.
“Supporting research into ovarian cancer is vital because we have to change this journey for other women going forward,” she said.
When you purchase your Mater Cars for Cancer ticket, you are joining the global effort to change the future of cancer diagnoses, treatment and care, while supporting those in your community receiving treatment at Mater, just like Natalie. We can’t thank you enough for your support.