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Community / Cancer survivors share their stories ahead of Relay for Life

In the first of three survivor stories Denise MacBeath shares her experience of going through cancer treatment

Denise MacBeath.

AHEAD of the Shetland Relay for Life returning next weekend (28 May), the organisers have teamed up with Shetland News to share stories from three brave cancer survivors.

The biennial event – which was not held in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic – has raised hundreds of thousands for Cancer Research UK over the years.

The first survivor story is from Denise MacBeath, and we will publish another on Tuesday before the final one next Friday.

They have kindly shared their experiences of cancer to raise awareness of the disease.

Name? Denise MacBeath

Type of cancer? Ovarian cancer

Age? 33

How did your diagnosis come about? “I went to the doctor with a heaviness in my pelvis and it hurt when I went to pee.”

What was your treatment? “I had three operations. The first one was back in November 2018, which was open surgery as the consultants weren’t entirely sure what was going on, so it was exploratory to decide what was going to happen. They removed a 7cm tumour and the left ovary. The second operation was in April 2019, which was done by keyhole to remove my right ovary. The last was done again by keyhole in August 2021, there was residual ovarian tissue so that had to be removed too.”

What was your lowest point? “I would say it would have been when I was told three weeks after my first operation that the right ovary had to be removed too as the biopsy had come back saying there were cancer cells. We don’t have any children and being told that I was going to be made infertile was a big blow. Luckily I was referred to the fertility centre straight away before the right ovary was removed.”

What helped lift your spirits/kept you going? “I wouldn’t say that there was anything in particular, I tend to be quite a positive person anyway and try not to let things get me down. I never thought ‘why me?’ I was always in the mindset that there is always someone worse off than myself and going through a tougher time, dwelling on things doesn’t help it just makes you feel worse.”

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What would you say to people currently going through treatment? “Surround yourself with people that care and love you. But also remember to allow yourself a bit of ‘me time’ sometimes you just need that bit of space and time to yourself.”

What would you like people to take from your story? “If there is anything out of the ordinary within your body, no matter how embarrassing you think it might be, get it checked out, it could save your life. I know it saved mine, one of the fertility nurses told me I was so lucky to have caught the cancer early as normally ovarian cancer is detected too late.”

Anyone you would like to thank? “My consultants and the team at the fertility centre for their amazing work. Family, friends and workmates for their support, it would have been harder to go through without them.”

What are you planning for the Relay? “I am doing the survivors’ lap alongside my Mam. We haven’t entered a team for the Relay this time.”

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