December 8 2013 Latest news:
By Stephen Pullinger
Friday, October 12, 2012
A mother of four has refused to let a devastating cancer diagnosis spoil her wedding.
However, gruelling chemotherapy sessions have forced Stephanie Friend, 33, to bring her big day forward to Sunday from the planned date in November.
Miss Friend and her partner Frank Vann, 45, a bus driver, had planned every detail of their perfect wedding since becoming engaged in September last year – but their dreams were shattered when she was told she had ovarian cancer three weeks ago.
She said: “It came totally out of the blue. I started having pains in my stomach and feeling bloated and unable to eat back in February, but doctors diagnosed all sorts of things from irritable bowel syndrome to appendicitis. At times I blew up and looked like I was seven months pregnant, but the problem was I did not fit their categories for ovarian cancer; I am only 33, I am not overweight and I have no history of cancer in my family.”
Miss Friend, of Church Road, Cantley, has been told there is a 60pc chance chemotherapy will successfully shrink her tumours, but because the cancer is advanced it is likely to come back.
She appealed to anyone with worrying, unexplained symptoms to keep challenging their doctor to avoid her heartache.
Her first test for ovarian cancer had shown an elevated risk as early as March, but a later scan proved negative.
“I had another test in July and that showed a massively elevated risk. They sent me to the gynaecologist in August but it was a further six weeks before I went into hospital for an exploratory operation,” she said.
Miss Friend, a catering assistant at Tiffins sandwich bar, in Norwich, began chemotherapy two weeks ago and brought the wedding forward because she knows its side-effects are likely to make her too unwell by November.
She said: “This is my good week and then I’ll be starting another cycle of chemo next week after the wedding.
“My hair started falling out today and Frank has shaved it all off to avoid me being upset every time I lost a bit more.”
She will be wearing a wig when she walks down the aisle of St Margaret’s Church, Cantley.
She said they had been hoping to seal their relationship with a baby to join her existing family of Connor, 15; Courtney, 13; Kyle, 11; and 10-year-old Gregory, but she was now almost certain to need a hysterectomy.