When friends and doctors suspected that Abi Cresswell was pregnant, she was sure she was not.
What she did not know, though, was that her bloated abdomen bore a 2.2-pound, waterball-shaped tumor.
The 21-year-old had suffered extreme and unpredictable pain for six months, sometimes unable to get out of bed, unable to sleep at night, and missing some of her dance classes at the university.
Abi said that at first doctors could not get to the bottom of things, which was wrong with her. She had to send her repeatedly to pregnancy tests because her stomach was "huge."
However, after the pain worsened so much that she could barely walk, Abi was taken to A & E and the doctors could see a mass in her through scans.
Abi from Norwich received the shock diagnosis of gamete ovarian cancer, a rare type of disease.
She had to surgically remove her tumor, which had grown to 2.2 kg.
"My stomach probably looked like I was pregnant, it looked like a ball shape," Abi said, talking to Mirror.co.uk.
"Even my friends thought I was pregnant once."
She said she had been in pain for about six months before the diagnosis and recalled, "In all those months, GPs would say," Try it, try it, "or they did not think it was anything, or they would give me pregnancy tests or ibuprofen for pain relief.
"You know your own body and I knew it was not a normal abdominal pain, I knew there was something else.
"The pregnancy tests were because my stomach was so big.
"They saw my stomach and thought I was pregnant – at least two doctors believed that.
"I knew that I was not pregnant.
"I would say (to doctors) I'm pretty confident that I'm not (pregnant)."
Abi said she would ask if there might be anything else.
She claims, however, doctors would answer, "Let's see how the pregnancy tests run out."
The symptoms started in mid-December 2017, when Abi was 19 years old, and she initially described "normal abdominal pain".
At the time, she was studying dance at the University of Bedfordshire, but because of her stomach aches, she had to miss a few classes.
"Sometimes the pain was so bad that I could not do anything," she said.
"Sometimes it was a sudden sudden pain in my stomach, and it was really hard to predict.
"Sometimes it would take a few days, but then it would flare up again."
Abi says she went to the doctors who referred her to a hospital where she received an ultrasound in February 2018.
She claims she received a letter after the scan telling her that she had a benign cyst right down her abdominal area that was to be surgically removed and was scheduled for examination in May.
"I've never had surgery so I did not know how it would go on, but at that point I was happy it was benign," Abi said.
"The pain was so bad, I just wanted it to be over, I did not want to feel any pain anymore."
Before the surgery, Abi said, "Between December and July – most days I was in pain – it would be hard to sleep, I wake up most of the night.
"It influenced my everyday life.
"The pressure on my bladder increased and I went to the toilet all the time.
"When I went out, I needed to know where the next toilet was.
"My partner David (Johnson) could see that I was in constant pain and he hated to see it.
"I was frustrated and just wanted the surgery because I wanted it all over."
Abi says she was in so much pain before surgery that she could barely walk and her mother, Sarah, brought her to A & E.
At A & E she got morphine and remembered that "they saw that my stomach was quite big".
"They looked at the test results of a (previous) scan and could see a mass that made them (their tummy) big," she said.
Abi says that she has been told that she needs surgery as soon as possible.
The next day, she saw a counselor and her surgery was booked five days later.
Abi said, "The counselor said that they did not know exactly what they were going to do until they looked into my stomach.
"We were nervous because we did not know how it would turn out.
"But I'm a positive thinker and just hoped it was not bad."
She continued, "After the operation, a surgeon said that they had removed a 2.2 kg mass from my stomach.
"I remember seeing a picture and it was like a beach ball.
"I was glad it was outside and hoped that I did not have so much pain."
Abi said samples from her tumor had to be sent for testing.
A week later, in July, the hospital called her mother and said her daughter had ovarian cancer.
"Mom cried right away," Abi said.
She said her first thought was to call her partner David because he knew he was going to get sick.
Symptoms of germ cell ovarian cancer
According to the Macmillan Cancer Organization, the symptoms include:
- Pain or pressure in the pelvis or stomach
- a feeling of fullness or gradual swelling of the abdomen
- irregular periods or signs of pregnancy
- high temperatures (fever), chills, feeling sick or abdominal pain.
Abi admitted that the thought had been in the back of her mind that it could be cancer, but said she always tried to be a positive person.
"It was shocking, you do not know how it affects you until you are," she said.
"But doctors told me that I was fine.
"They told my mother it was 90 percent curable.
"It could have been a worse scenario."
Within a week, Abi said she sees a counselor working on the treatment.
And in August of last year she started chemotherapy.
It would take four cycles, each lasting five days, with two weeks separating the cycles.
During the treatment, she said she was sometimes sick, tired, and spent most of her time in bed.
She lost her appetite, became underweight and suffered from hair loss.
"It would come out in clumps and in the end I got someone to shave it off," she said.
"When I was told I would lose my hair, I cried over it.
"I did not cry when they told me I had cancer, but I cried when I lost my hair.
"I was scared before, but when it happened, it was fine."
During the treatment, Abi's mother stayed with her in the hospital and helped her at home.
"She would help me take a shower because I was weak and she would help me put my clothes on," Abi said.
"She did most of the things for me."
Sarah has given up her job as a housekeeper from August to November to look after her own daughter. They had to use food banks, but Abi said it helped them.
Abi's last chemotherapy session took place on October 15, and at the end of the month, October 22, she received the All-Clear after the scans.
"I was happy, but relieved," she said.
"My message to others does not doubt you or your body.
"Go with your stomach, even if doctors tell you something."
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