Pfizer # 1: FH4092
Pfizer # 2: FH3219
I’m 35 and live in Adelaide with my partner. I’m from Gore – The country music capital of NZ, and a farming town, and moved to Adelaide for work 6 years ago after applying for jobs in both NZ and Australia. I am a hydrographic surveyor that supports Port infrastructure, with a passion for art.
Health is a big part of my life; I eat really well and am fit. I am a pescetarian and am in tune with my body. I’ve not had any health issues before, no broken bones or hospital visits in my life and have not required medications, just the odd Panadol.
I didn’t want to get the vaccine, but while I was offshore on a project in WA, the government there changed the rules and mandated the vaccine for FIFO workers and essential Port workers (and I fit both categories)
I had my first Pfizer vaccine on the 8th of October 2021. I had no other side effects other than a sore arm. I had my second Pfizer on the 3rd of November 2021, with no notable side effects at the time.
Mid November, I had an incident where I was lightheaded and almost fainted and having not had that before I felt concerned, so I went to the doctors and got blood tests, which found I had low iron and low haemoglobin. Soon after this I started experiencing cramping and bloating symptoms. I understood this was a side effect of the Iron tablets I had started taking, so I didn’t do anything about it. The symptoms were not improving by January, so I stopped taking the tablets and got an iron infusion on 5th January, but the bloating and cramps became more severe, I had constant pain.
Cramping and bloating are common symptoms for women, so I put off going to the doctor for another few weeks hoping it would subside, but the pain became so intense, I thought It might be my appendix. I was back to the doctors on the 24th of January, they ordered a CT scan and I had it that same week – that’s when they found the tumour.
I had the surgery (it was like a c-section with 6 week recovery time) on the 7th of February. The tumour was contained within my right ovary – it measured 13cm X 9cm X 7cm and weighed 500grams. They didn’t know it was cancerous until after the biopsy and I was advised it was a rare form of cancer, an Immature Teratoma. There are 2 types of Teratoma – A ‘Mature’ one is non-cancerous, and an ‘Immature’ is cancerous and can spread to other organs. The pathology report stipulated it’s a ‘grade 2 high-grade tumour’.
Ovarian cancer is hard to detect. I’m lucky I was believed with my symptoms, sent for further investigation (CT scan) and it was caught at stage one being completely confined with no more traces throughout – others aren’t so lucky. Additionally, I’ve had check-ups and pap smear tests when they are due and had the last one 2-3 years ago. I believe cancers are not often picked up in a pap smear anyway.
It was a very emotional time finding out I had a tumour. They also removed my ovary in surgery, which felt like a shock to know you’d had a piece of yourself taken away.
I started chemo on 7th of March, after a month gap from the surgery. They ask you before Chemo if you plan on having children as the effects of chemo can affect that, and if I wanted to freeze my eggs, now was the time, or else I might need to look at other options in future. I didn’t have current plans to have children, but I felt pushed to make a quick decision. It was a lot to go through and get my head around in a short space of time.
As well as potential fertility issues, they explained other long term side effects such as potential nerve damage and other things that I could have for life, which led me to feel fearful with what could happen.
It was only because the doctors said the tumour was several weeks to a few months old, and that they couldn’t identify a cause, that I tracked back to having the second Pfizer vaccine about 12 weeks before my diagnosis. This was the only change I’d had in recent times. It came out of nowhere and I’d had no lifestyle changes. It could be random and not connected at all, and I don’t know if I’ll ever know, but the timing, the fact I don’t fit the typical picture of a cancer patient, and no direct family history of it (around 150 members) and only have one aunty who has had cervical cancer, I asked the doctors if there was any chance this could have been caused by the jab, they said no. I cannot fault the doctors and specialists because they have been really supportive and listened.
My chemo is 3 rounds of 3 weeks per round. I’ve finished round one and starting round 2 next week. Day 1 to 5, I’m in there with the IV drip from 9am to 4pm, Pills on day 6 & 7 and Days 7 & 15 I’m in there again on the IV drip. I have anti-nausea tablets to take during chemo, but they cause reflux and constipation, so I also have medications to address each of those symptoms. Once per cycle, I need an injection which is used to reduce the chance of infection in relation to blood cells and bone marrow.
I have a PICC line inserted in my arm during the whole 9 weeks of chemo which I can’t take out, so that’s annoying. The effects from the chemo so far have been nausea, chills, headache, body ache, my taste has changed, appetite changed, I developed mouth ulcers and noticed today when brushing my hair, it’s starting to fall out.
The great thing that’s come out of this for me is that it’s put things into perspective. I’ve had an amazing support network with my sister coming from Sydney to be with me for the surgery, my partner there for me, taking me to my appointments and picking up where I can’t around the house, plus my workplace has been great and I work from home when I can. I’m currently isolating due to my compromised immune system and as of next Monday, I have 6 weeks of chemo to go.
I’m sharing my story to see if there is anyone in a similar position to me with the timing of an aggressive cancer diagnosis in relation to the . I hope to also bring awareness to people to not discount any symptom and to push for further testing if things don’t feel right. As ovarian cancer is hard to detect, symptoms can be dismissed as something else. I met another lady at chemo who has it, but as she also has IBS, she was dismissed for 2 years by doctors (even one told her she needed to go to a psychologist and believed her symptoms were all in her head!) she found another doctor and they found her she has stage 4 cancer. Early detection has made my story largely positive.