Claire overcomes the odds after ovarian cancer diagnosis

Icon Writers / 07 Mar, 2023

Each day in Australia, five women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is Australia’s deadliest female cancer, with a five-year survival rate of just 48%.

Taigum resident, Claire Schultz is part of that 48% of women.

The 89-year-old was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in June 2017.

Claire shared her story during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in February.

“I went to see my GP as I was experiencing pain in my left leg,” says Claire.

“He sent me to get an x-ray, which showed further investigation was needed and I was sent to the Prince Charles Hospital. After having further tests, I was referred to a top medical oncologist (Dr Jeffrey Goh) who told me I had stage 4 ovarian cancer.

“Dr Goh was in the process of moving to Icon Cancer Centre Chermside at the time and I told him I wanted to go with him and it’s the best decision I have ever made.

“He referred me to a surgeon to remove my ovaries, but unfortunately the surgery couldn’t remove all of the cancer, so Dr Goh took over and has been with me ever since.

“He has guided me through a very severe and traumatic period to get me to where I am today.

“I still have the cancer and I still receive chemotherapy two out of every three weeks to keep the cancer at bay.

“The team at Icon Chermside have been wonderful. The staff are all so friendly and have been very supportive. I can’t speak highly enough of Dr Goh I always say to him: “You fixed me. And he says: “No, it’s a team effort, you did 50 per cent and I did 50 per cent.” I can’t thank him enough.”

Claire’s 94-year-old husband, Merv attends all of her doctor appointments and chemotherapy sessions.

Unable to drive, the couple rely on St John’s Ambulance transport services to get them to and from medical appointments.

This year the couple will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary on April 23 and Claire will turn 90 on Boxing Day.

“When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I was told I only had two months to live,” says Claire.

“I was determined to be here for my family for as long as I could.

“I’ve been stable for a few years now and that’s thanks to the wonderful work of the team at Icon.”

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As signs and symptoms for ovarian cancer can be similar to other common conditions, it’s important to see your GP or healthcare professional if you experience any of the symptoms below.

Discussing anything concerning with your doctor as soon as possible can help give you peace of mind and offer the best chance of successful treatment if you receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvic area
  • Bloating or an extended abdomen
  • Bleeding between periods or after menopause
  • Reduced appetite or a feeling of being full after small meals
  • Weight gain or loss that can’t be explained by diet and exercise-related factors
  • Changes in urinating, including increase in frequency and urgent need to pass urine
  • Changes in bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhoea
  • Tiredness

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