DESPITE once being a gynaecological ward sister, Amanda Barnes was unaware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
The 49-year-old, who now works as the divisional head of nursing for Southampton General Hospital, had dismissed her symptoms, starting with extreme tiredness and feeling light headed, as being part of the menopause.
Mrs Barnes, of Fifth Avenue, Havant, said: ‘I didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t really put my finger on what was wrong.
‘Having a busy job in the NHS it was easy to blame how I was feeling on that.
‘I did go to see my GP, but I was reassured it was nothing to worry about.’
But in October 2012, Mrs Barnes was given the devastating news that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Three months before diagnosis, she began to feel worse with a dragging pain in her abdomen, bloating and loss of appetite.
Mrs Barnes visited her doctor again, after experiencing severe pain down her left hand side.
She was then fast-tracked to have a full hysterectomy as part of a five-hour operation to remove the cancer.
After that Mrs Barnes had six cycles of chemotherapy, which finished in March last year.
Five months later and Mrs Barnes is back at work, but needs to keep an eye on her condition.
She said: ‘I think of it as a chronic illness, and carry on doing things I normally would. I have to regularly monitor the situation, as it can get worse in the future.’
Mrs Barnes is sharing her story as March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
She is calling on women to get behind a campaign run by charity Ovacome.
The charity said that often ovarian cancer is confused with less serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, the menopause or general fatigue.
Mrs Barnes added: ‘Since getting ovarian cancer I have been telling people at work, friends and family about the disease and I’ve been astounded at the lack of knowledge about it even among people in the medical profession.
‘I want to raise awareness of the campaign and get people talking about ovarian cancer.’