A WOMAN has described how she missed her cancer until it made its way out through her navel.
Kari Neumeyer, from north-west US, was diagnosed with what’s often dubbed the “silent killer” cancer.
Ovarian cancer causes symptoms including feeling constantly bloated, feeling full quickly, needing to urinate more often and discomfort in the tummy.
It so often crosses over with common health problems that it’s not caught until the cancer is already advanced.
Surveys show that women are often unaware of symptoms and delay seeing their GP.
But Kari, writing in Huffington Post, says she was familiar with ovarian cancer symptoms.
The leaflet she received was from a charity awareness walk she did a decade prior to her diagnosis in April 2020.
The writer didn’t see any changes to her health, but she still missed the signs.
It wasn’t until she saw a dermatologist for a small growth in her belly button that things became clearer.
Kari said: “I had a small growth, the size and color of a pencil eraser, in my navel. The dermatologist thought it was harmless and removed it. However, the biopsy proved otherwise.
“If my cancer hadn’t found its way out of my body through my navel, it probably would not have been discovered until after it disrupted other essential organs like my liver, kidneys or lungs.
“It could have been a death sentence.”
More tests confirmed Kari had ovarian cancer, diagnosed in 7,400 women per year in the UK, and 21,410 in the US.
Kari doesn’t reveal the medical reason or diagnosis for her navel growth.
However, it has been reported by doctors in relation to pelvic and abdominal cancers.
These are often called a Sister Mary Joseph Nodule, after the nurse who first reported the symptom in 1800.
The cancer spreads from its primary site to the umbilical area, which is behind the belly button.
Your GP should examine any bumps, lumps, or skin changes.
Sister Mary Joseph nodules are very rare, with only a few cases published in medical literature.
Kari said: “My CT scan showed that each ovary had been overtaken by tumors the size of small citrus fruit, and I had a third tumor the size of a larger citrus fruit in the center of my abdomen.
“The cancer had spread up through my umbilicus and out my navel, which was, as far as I knew at the time, the only symptom I had.
“In hindsight, I did have excruciating back pain six months before I was diagnosed. I thought I’d strained my back lifting my 85-pound elderly dog.
“I recalled intermittent sharp chest pains in recent years. My internet research revealed that it was probably heartburn. It is most likely due in part to my overindulgence in chocolate and processed carbohydrates.
“Waiting it out at home was preferable to sitting in an emergency room for hours, and I never thought to mention it to anyone. It only occurred to me that this could have been a sign of ovarian cancer after 13 months of racking my brain trying to think of symptoms I missed.”
The NHS also lists persistent indigestion and back discomfort as signs of ovarian carcinoma.
Kari was given chemotherapy before doctors discovered it wasn’t working because she had a rare type of ovarian cancer.
After a scan showed no evidence of disease, Kari had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
However, “ovarian cancer is considered a chronic illness”, Kari says.
“Even with the removal of all those organs, the cancer can come back elsewhere. But I don’t feel any closer to dying than I was a year ago.”
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