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Teen Basks In Compliments About Her Weight Loss Only To Learn It Was All Due To Massive Ovarian Tumor

Teen Basks In Compliments About Her Weight Loss Only To Learn It Was All Due To Massive Ovarian Tumor
PA Real Life/Collect

A student who lapped up compliments about her unexplained weight loss was horrified when she discovered it was being caused by a 30cm ovarian tumor pressing against her vital organs.

At first, when, back in August 2017, Beth Dinsley, now 21, began effortlessly slimming down, she was delighted – especially when her friends remarked on how good she looked.

But Beth, of Lydd, Kent, England, a University of Lincoln animal behavior and welfare student, also felt exhausted – which she attributed to working 12 hour shifts in a holiday park over the summer.

Beth with her mum and sister (PA Real Life/Collect)

Returning to university that September, Beth, then 19, started vomiting throughout menstruation and when she went home for Christmas, her concerned mum took her to the GP, who referred her for a CT scan.

Beth recalled her horror when the scan revealed a 30cm tumor on her right ovary, saying: “As soon as doctors said the word 'tumour', all I could ask was, 'Am I going to die?' But at that point, nobody could tell me – they didn't know.

“Going through what I have has made me appreciate life more, and if ever I feel anxious about the small things, I look back and it puts it all in perspective."

Beth in hospital (PA Real Life/Collect)

With an average of just 39 of the almost 7,500 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK being aged between 15 and 19, Beth – who has fully recovered – is now keen to support Ovarian Cancer Action in raising awareness of the disease and encouraging young women to be checked.

She said: “I never thought I'd get ovarian cancer at 19. Now I want to help raise awareness and urge other women to see a doctor if they're even slightly worried. It might turn out to be nothing – but your health is the most important thing and it's not worth taking any chances. "

Previously fit and sporty, when Beth started feeling incredibly tired during the summer of 2017, she thought it was because of going straight from sitting exams at university into a holiday job.

Beth in hospital (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I also began losing weight, despite not really trying to," she said. “But everyone kept telling me how good and healthy I looked, so I didn't really question it."

Then, back at university in September, she also started vomiting during her period.

She added: “It was strange, as I'd feel completely fine once I'd been sick. I had spoken to other girls who said that sometimes they were sick too, so it wasn't unheard of."

Beth after she had lost her hair (PA Real Life/Collect)

But that autumn, she was playing rugby when another player fell on her during a tackle, leaving her with an “agonizing" stabbing pain near her groin, which landed her in A&E, where she was told she had probably sustained internal bruising and muscle damage.

“I went away feeling quite satisfied," she said. “After that, my symptoms seemed to lessen a little. I'm not sure if it was psychological, as I thought I had an answer, so convinced myself I was okay.

“But when I went home for Christmas, my mum insisted on taking me to the doctor to be safe."

When her GP referred her for an urgent CT scan, Beth finally realized there might be something seriously wrong.

She added: “I remember FaceTiming a friend and telling her that I was worried I had cancer. She reassured me, telling me, 'I bet you £100 you don't.'"

But, within days, her scan results revealed a 30cm tumor on her right ovary, which had been pressing against her organs.

Beth on the way back from hospital when she was first diagnosed (PA Real Life/Collect)

“The doctors said that's why I'd been vomiting," she said. “The tumor was pressing on my ovary and when it contracted, during my period, my body went into overdrive.

“As the medics talked, I could feel my eyes glazing over. I was so numb with shock I just couldn't take it in."

Transferred to the Royal Marsden, a specialist cancer treatment hospital in Chelsea, west London, a biopsy confirmed in January 2018 that Beth had a dysgerminoma tumor.

Beth in hospital (PA Real Life/Collect)

According to the charity Ovarian Cancer Action, these kind of germ cell tumors are rare, accounting for just five per cent of ovarian cancer cases and mainly affecting younger woman.

In a second devastating blow, Beth was told that cancerous cells had also been found in her chest, meaning she was classed as stage four.

“The doctors gave me a 95 per cent chance of survival, which dropped to about 90 once they found the cells in my chest," she said."

Beth with her mum and sister (PA Real Life/Collect)

“It was difficult seeing my life laid out as a percentage – especially when it was decreasing," Beth continued.

“That night was the first time I had ever stayed overnight in a hospital.

“Before all this, I'd never even had a blood test, but everybody, from the staff to the patients, were amazing, and really put me at ease."

Beth and her mum (PA Real Life/Collect)

Beginning treatment immediately, Beth had four rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, which left her nauseous, exhausted, and covered in painful mouth ulcers.

After the second round, her long brown hair began to fall out so, determined to seize back control, she decided to shave it.

“I knew at that point, I would look sick, when actually, I had been far sicker before my diagnosis. The chemo was making me better, but whenever you see somebody with no hair, you automatically assume they're unwell," she said.

“My mum shaved my head for me. She told me afterwards I had a nice-shaped head, which is up there with things you never expect to hear about yourself," Beth added.

“It was actually really liberating, although absolutely freezing, being this bald egg in the middle of winter."

To protect her left ovary from the chemotherapy, which can, in some cases, cause infertility, Beth took a tablet to suppress her menstrual cycle, temporarily plunging her into the menopause.

Beth's hair after it began to fall out (PA Real Life/Collect)

In time, she was moved to the Royal Marsden in Sutton, south west London, so she could stay on a specialist young people's ward.

And by the time the fourth cycle of chemo had finished, her tumor had shrunk to 12cm, meaning she could have surgery to remove the rest.

The operation, in which her right ovary was also removed, in June 2018, was a complete success.

Beth after shaving her hair off (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I was so nervous," she recalled. “By that point, I had become hyper aware of the infected, cancerous cells in my body. I just wanted them gone. As I was wheeled off, I remember looking at my family for as long as I could. I was terrified I'd never see them again.

“When I woke up hours later, I was in indescribable pain. I'd been sliced through the abdomen, and felt like I was going to rip open if I moved the slightest bit. I had a morphine pump which I had to press frantically to get relief.

“Mentally, I was ready to push myself, but physically, I just couldn't. I had to teach myself to ask, 'What would a baby do?' You can't expect a baby to be in the gym, doing crunches, so I allowed myself to take it slowly."

Beth in hospital (PA Real Life/Collect)

With the help of physiotherapy, Beth gradually grew stronger.

Humor helped her to accept the 14cm scar, snaking from her belly button to her groin, left by surgery – which she called Meryl Streep after her idol.

She said: “I figured I had to learn to love it and that naming it after someone who inspires me would help do that."

She added: “So, the scar is called Meryl Streep. Now, Meryl and I can get through anything."

Still having regular scans to monitor her, to date there are no traces of cancer left in Beth's body.

Her periods have returned and, as her left ovary is still working, it is thought her fertility will be unaffected.

Beth and her boyfriend Joe (PA Real Life/Collect)

She eventually managed to go back to university, rejoining in the year below, which was a blessing in disguise, as she made a whole new group of friends and met her boyfriend, Joe Reynolds, 21.

Now, grateful for the support she has received from Ovarian Cancer Action, she is determined to raise awareness of symptoms of the disease, including stomach pain, bloating, feeling full quickly, an increased need to wee, unexplained weight loss, changes in bowel habits and extreme tiredness.

Also praising her loved ones for their unwavering support, she said: “I can't thank my friends and family enough for being who they are – for reading to me when I couldn't sleep, rubbing my back when I was throwing up and hugging me when I felt hopeless."

(L-R) Jess, Beth, her mum and brother Gabe (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I can only take half the responsibility for my recovery. Their positivity and support makes up the rest," Beth concluded.

“Now I just want people to know they don't have to go through something like this alone."

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