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Doctors Told Woman She Just Needed To Lose Weight -- She Had Ovarian Cancer

Hannah Cotton pictured in the hospital

Yet another woman’s severe health issues were frustratingly dismissed by doctors as a simple case of needing to lose weight.

Since 2019, Hannah Catton (above) had dealt with a slew of painful symptoms that suggested a bigger problem was present. She had frequent urinary tract infections, bloating, and “extremely painful,” irregular periods — but doctors in both her hometown of Kent, England, and new home of Melbourne, Australia, always brushed them off.

The 24-year-old was prescribed antibiotics, told it was menstrual stress, and was even told she needed to lose weight. Unfortunately, it took her collapsing in pain one day to get a proper diagnosis: she had stage 1 ovarian cancer.

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While speaking to Today, the veterinary nurse said she dealt with her pain for years, until it started getting worse in September 2020. At that point, her periods were leaving her with bloating, constipation, hot flashes, diarrhea, and pain. One doctor said the changes to her menstrual cycle were due to stress, but she went to another doctor in March — who gave a second opinion that was even more frustrating.

She explained:

“She told me to lose weight which was hard to hear, and I definitely wasn’t overweight… I’m pretty physically fit… She didn’t palpate my abdomen, and if she had taken the time to do that she probably would have felt something was wrong in there.”

In other words… you had one job, doc! Seeing as her weight wasn’t the issue, Catton’s pain got worse. Thankfully, she went to a gynecologist who performed an ultrasound that showed what was likely a 10-centimeter fibroid around her uterus.

The UK native was put on the waiting list for surgery, but her pain ramped up after a horseback riding session in October 2021. She recalled:

“When I dismounted after the first day riding, I collapsed in pain to the point of almost vomiting. It was excruciating. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time so I took as much pain relief as I could and tried to sleep it off.”

It got even worse: the next day, Catton tried working out and collapsed. Her boyfriend made her go to the emergency room, where doctors eventually determined after ultrasounds, MRI and CT scans, and blood tests, she had stage 1 ovarian cancer — and that her tumor had ruptured. Catton had emergency surgery to remove the tumor, then started on her cancer treatment. She said:

“My wonderful oncologist wanted to hit me hard and fast with chemo.”

The animal healthcare professional is currently going through four rounds of week-long chemotherapy and is doing well, though she misses her family back in England. She told BBC News:

“It was an extremely hard conversation to have with my parents over the phone, to tell them I didn’t know if I was going to die. It’s a lonely time anyway because of COVID and it’s extremely hard having all your family on the other side of the world, and knowing you can’t get home.”

Amid her treatment, Catton is sharing her story in hopes that others who have their pain dismissed by doctors will stick to their guns:

“The number of messages I’ve had from ladies with stories so similar to mine — where they have been brushed off by doctors and told it’s weight, hormones, menopause, etc. — is shocking… Not talking about experiences like these means that they will keep happening to women. It shouldn’t happen. I should’ve been offered an ultrasound and referrals months before. The stigma attached to complaining about period pain/issues and all the symptoms that includes needs to stop. So many lives are affected by it.”

Meanwhile, the patient’s friends are raising money for her on GoFundMe. We applaud Catton and all the women out there who are shedding light on this all-too-common scenario. Stay strong, girl.

[Image via GoFundMe]

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Feb 04, 2022 07:00am PDT