I woke up one morning in severe pain — like period pain — out of the blue. After a trip to A&E and a couple of visits to my GP, the culprit was suspected to be a large cyst on my ovary. Ovarian cysts are reasonably common, so the only concern at the time was its remarkable size (10 cm), prompting surgery to remove it. The discharge paperwork gave no mention of any follow-up, so I was naturally very worried when the nurse called me back in a few weeks later. That’s when I was told the cyst was cancerous. I was 31 years old. Stage 2b ovarian cancer; squamous cell carcinoma presenting in a dermoid ovarian cyst, a very rare type of cancer to have on the ovary. And, owing to its size, some of it had more than likely broken free when it was being removed, so, cue surgery again — this time to remove the ovary and fallopian tube — as well as ‘peritoneal washing’ to check whether any other cancer cells were hanging about. After the operation, which was deemed to be a success, I had my first appointment with Professor Hall, who recommended a ‘watch and wait’ approach. Over the next fortnight, however, I felt my bowel movements change and the tummy pain got worse; a scan showed that the cancer was spreading fast. This was an aggressive cancer. Professor Hall advised me to start chemotherapy as soon as possible. I didn’t get the chance to freeze my eggs, a process that would only have taken a few weeks — time that we didn’t have.