A young woman who was surprised to be told she was pregnant actually had a potentially deadly tumour.
Becky Brothwood was preparing to apply to Bangor University when her GP said that her pregnancy test had come back positive – something that the then-18-year-old coulnd’t beleive was possible.
She was rushed to A&E over fears that it could be an ectopic pregnancy, which happens when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb.
But when Becky came out of surgery in December 2014, she discovered that she actually had ovarian cancer, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Monday (March 1) is the start of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and to mark the campaign we’re revisiting Becky’s story, which we first covered back in 2017.
Her story was later featured on Inside Out North West’s ‘the Silent Killer’ investigation which aired last year on the first anniversary of BBC presenter Dianne Oxberry’s death from ovarian cancer.
Becky, originally from Walton, said she was due to get her third contraceptive injection and had been experiencing symptoms like bloating, tiredness and weeing more often – so “knew something wasn’t right.”
The dementia care worker, now 20, said: “The lady asked how I was finding the contraception and I mentioned the symptoms and then she said ‘let me do a pregnancy test’. I came back positive.
“I was only 18 and I was like ‘oh my god what do I do now’. She checked the dates that I had been back recently and she said it was impossible for it to happen.”
Hospitals were then contacted with the health worker advising Becky that she needed to get to A&E.
The student said she was “freaking out” because it was a suspected ectopic pregnancy and was soon sent for observation to Fazakerley and then Ormskirk – where she stayed overnight and underwent tests.
The next day, Becky had surgery over the medical concern but it was later discovered to be a tumour.
She said: “When I woke up they said the tumour was too big to remove and we were like ‘what do you mean a tumour?’ They said it was just medical terminology.
“We didn’t have the diagnosis until after I had the second surgery to get it removed. They called me after taking a biopsy and said it was cancer.”
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The biopsy results were received in January 2015 with Becky starting treatment at Clatterbridge Hospital the following month – where she underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy.
Discussing her diagnosis with the Echo, she said: “It send me into a bit of a trance and I thought now I’m on the other side of the fence. You see people on Children in Need and think ‘how would you deal with that?’ and [there I was].”
She said staff at Clatterbridge were “amazing” during her treatment and “nothing was too much for them.”
Becky had been in college when she received her diagnosis but has since gone on to graduate from Bangor University with a degree in Health and Social Care.
She previously told North Wales Live that she was determined to get on with her education and went back to college two weeks after treatment ended – and later applied for university.
“I really wanted to go to Bangor. When I got the offer I kept thinking ‘this time last year I was in hospital – now I am going to university’,” she explained to us back in 2017.
The 20-year-old, who now works in dementia care, said filming the BBC documentary was emotional as it revealed how her illness had affected her father Ian Brothwood.
Speaking on the programme about the moment he heard it was a suspected tumour, he said: “You’re just numb, you don’t really process it, I just stood there in the kitchen for a while and […] you don’t know what that is going to mean.”
He described the treatment as “really brutal,” adding: “That was the most difficult to watch your child go through something which is absolutely tortuous.”
Fortunately, Becky’s cancer was caught at stage one before it had spread to any other parts of her body – but this isn’t the case for many woman who are diagnosed with the disease.
She now wants to raise awareness that ovarian cancer can affect young women under the age of 30 and help people to recognise the symptoms – which according to the NHS are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
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