A FORMER headteacher from Greater Manchester who is living with ovarian cancer wants more women to know the signs and symptoms of the cancer.

Gill Broom, 62, originally from Bramhall, Stockport, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2020.

Gill, who now lives in Clitheroe, is a volunteer with the Dianne Oxberry Trust - a charity focused on raising awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms to people across the North West.

Dianne, who was from Greater Manchester and one of the BBC’s longest-serving presenters, sadly died from ovarian cancer on 10 January 2019.

The Bolton News: Dianne Oxberry with husband Ian.Dianne Oxberry with husband Ian. (Image: Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance)

Gill found out she had ovarian cancer almost a year later. She initially suspected something was wrong when she experienced post-menopausal bleeding while out shopping in September 2020. Postmenopausal bleeding is an uncommon symptom of ovarian cancer and is more common with womb cancers. Fortunately Gill, contacted her GP urgently knowing it was a ‘red-flag symptom’.

After a series of tests, Gill went on to be diagnosed with clear cell ovarian cancer and underwent a hysterectomy and chemotherapy. She was then put on routine checks. Unfortunately, around a year later in November 2021 a check-up identified some further evidence of cancer spreading to her lymph nodes which she had keyhole surgery to remove. Surgeons were able to remove the cancer and Gill is now monitored with regular blood tests. Her cancer remains stable, but she may need further treatment in future.

Gill, who works part-time for a card and gift business, said: “You don’t see as many leaflets or posters or hear as many stories about ovarian cancer, compared to breast cancer and cervical cancer. I wanted to try and help the Dianne Oxberry Trust help change that.

The Bolton News: Gill Broom, 62.Gill Broom, 62. (Image: Great Manchester Cancer Alliance)“As a headteacher I was used to speaking to people so now I do talks to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer and the signs and symptoms. I want everyone to know that it’s really important to see your GP if you suspect you have any potential symptoms of ovarian cancer and to go back and be persistent if you don’t get answers straight away.

“It’s always tempting to make excuses that it could be down to something else, but it’s better to go and get checked out and to be sure either way. Don’t leave it or put it off, just go! It’s scary, but for me personally it was scarier when I didn’t know what was wrong. Once you know, you have a plan.”

Dr Nadia Ali-Ross, from Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, said: “The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be very vague, particularly when the disease is in its early stages. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, contact your GP practice.”

The Bolton News: Dr Nadia Ali-Ross, from Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance.Dr Nadia Ali-Ross, from Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance. (Image: Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance)

Eamonn O’Neal, chair of the Dianne Oxberry Trust and good friend and colleague of Dianne, said: “We know all too well how important early diagnosis is so if anyone is in doubt about symptoms they are experiencing we’d urge them to get checked by their GP. It could be nothing but early action really does save lives.”

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include frequently having:

• a swollen tummy or feeling bloated

• pain or tenderness in your tummy or the area between the hips (pelvis)

• no appetite or feeling full quickly after eating

• an urgent need to pee or needing to pee more often

Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

• indigestion

• constipation or diarrhoea

• back pain

• feeling tired all the time

• losing weight without trying

• bleeding from the vagina after the menopause

If something doesn’t feel right, or it’s been going on for a while, let your GP know. Finding cancer early saves lives. Visit the NHS website for more information.