Bailey Urquhart spent Valentine's Day in 2013 in almost ten hours of surgery.
The date was set after she was diagnosed with stage three, or “late stage”, ovarian cancer.
Urquhart was 16-years-old when she started feeling the extreme pain that would become her “norm” for the next eight years.
Numerous visits to doctors always ended the same way — they would simply chalk it up to be normal pain for a young woman, and tell her she should get used to it. She didn't.
With time the pain grew worse. Urquhart, a Hamilton native, started taking time off work, and would even end up lying on the ground, curled in a ball, battling the pain. She began wearing baggy clothes because her stomach was swelling while she was losing weight everywhere else.
By 24, Urquhart had enough. After being given an article on ovarian cancer awareness by her fiance's mom, she started researching. Urquhart went back to her doctor asking to be tested for three things: a parasite, a food allergy, and ovarian cancer.
No proven screening tests for ovarian cancer
“I didn’t think it was even possible for someone my age to even get a cancer like this, and if it were possible I thought with my regular testing that I went for with my physical that any issues I might have would be covered then and they’d be detected,” said Urquhart. “Little did I know that there’s no testing involved for ovarian, it’s only for cervical cancer.”
According to Ovarian Cancer Canada, currently, there are no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer, .
Blood tests didn't include the CA125 marker test, which could have helped at that point. The CA125 is a tumour or biomarker that can be evaluated in patients with specific types of cancer.
After no conclusive results, the doctor suggested doing an MRI scan in a couple of months, but Urquhart didn't feel like she could wait. She took matters into her own hands and went to emergency rooms. Her concerns were dismissed and every visit ended with a return trip home.
Doctors also advised her that she should not get a CT scan due to her “fertile age.” They said a scan could damage her eggs.
“Thankfully I had a great nurse, and she got some answers for me, and the next morning I had a CT scan, and that evening I was informed that they thought it might be cancer.”
Diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer
She was diagnosed in February of 2013 with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
“If I had been diagnosed at stage two, the chances of survival are 80-90 per cent. That chances of survival at stage three or four, or “late stage”, go down to less than 30 per cent after five years,” said Urquhart.
Urquhart says that the most important part of detecting ovarian cancer in young women would be for doctors not to be afraid of giving young “fertile females” a preventative CT scan.
“Instead of maybe killing off a couple of my eggs, or what have you, I’m not exactly sure what the radiation would do. But instead, now I don’t have any reproductive organs so I can’t have children, regardless. And on top of that I am now dealing with late stage cancer.”
Urquhart continued, “It’s important that you as a female know and understand your own body, and know that no one knows it like yourself.”
After hearing Urquhart's story, the chairs of Ovarian Cancer Canada invited her to be a guest speaker at the Love Her event in Toronto on February 27. The event is an evening of fashion and elegance in support of ovarian cancer awareness.
Urquhart now goes for check-up CT scans every three months. The latest three have been clear, and she will be going for a follow-up the day after giving her speech.