New Mom Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer at 23 Has Hysterectomy ‘For Daughter’

“As the consultant broke the news that I had ovarian cancer, I remember hearing my mom cry out, asking if I was going to die. I just told him that I had a 1-year-old girl at home who needs me,” Chloe Ball recalls of the moment that changed her forever. “It was a complete blur, but it’s definitely the biggest trauma of my life.”

Being a new mom is hard enough, but when then 23-year-old Ball started noticing some worrying symptoms last February, she wanted to address them straight away, telling Newsweek she “just had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right.”

Ball, now 24, was suffering with menstrual bleeding that would last up to three weeks at a time, and abdominal pain, so she wanted to get checked over by her doctor. But following two visits to her GP, the mom-of-one, from Suffolk in the U.K., was told that there were “no red flags” and everything looked fine.

Those positive words did little to allay her fears, however, and after months of getting nowhere, she booked to see a private gynecologist in July 2023. While they also thought “everything looked normal,” they arranged an ultrasound exam in August, telling Ball it would give her “peace of mind.” Unfortunately, it did anything but.

Ball continued: “When I had the private ultrasound, as soon as the machine touched my stomach, they immediately told me I had a cyst on my ovary. The atmosphere in the room changed and something felt a bit off. They measured it up and said it was nine centimeters.

“They actually turned the screen slightly so I couldn’t see, and I had a follow-up appointment with the gynecologist who said there was some solid components and referred to it as a mass rather than a cyst. I didn’t feel too concerned as I wasn’t too sure what any of it meant.”

Chloe Ball with her partner and daughter
Chloe Ball with her partner Jack, and daughter Tallulah. Ball was enjoying life as a new mom when she started experiencing worrying symptoms in February 2023.

Chloe Ball / @chlxe54

Initially, Ball felt relieved to finally have answers for the frustrating symptoms she’d been experiencing for months. She hoped it would put an end to the suffering and she could move on, but her health battle was far from over. Just a few weeks after it was found, the mass suddenly burst while Ball was laying in bed.

“I couldn’t stand or walk without being hunched over. The pain was just indescribable, so my partner took me to the hospital, and I passed out twice,” she said.

To this day she still isn’t certain what caused the rupture, but she had emergency surgery to remove the mass and spent several days in hospital recovering. When she was discharged, she hoped to put the whole situation behind her, as she was just “happy the mass was gone.” But after it was tested, it proved sinister.

“When I got the call, my stomach sank and I immediately knew it was going to be bad news. They told me to come in the following week and that I should bring someone with me. When I went in, they diagnosed me with stage 1c3 mixed cell ovarian cancer. I was completely and utterly devastated, and I still am to this day. It’s not something I expected to happen, especially at the age of 23,” she said.

How Common Is Ovarian Cancer?

This is a frightening reality for many women, just like Ball, as it’s believed that there are around 19,680 ovarian cancer diagnoses every year in the U.S. alone. The average age of a woman when she receives this diagnosis is 63, but according to the National Cancer Institute, 4.5 percent of cases occur in women aged between 20 and 34. The risk dramatically increases for women over 50.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include vaginal bleeding, pain or pressure in the pelvic area, abdominal or back pain, bloating, or a change in bathroom habits. Most importantly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges women to pay attention to their body and if they sense that anything seems abnormal, they shouldn’t hesitate in getting it checked by a doctor.

Chloe Ball after diagnosis
Chloe Ball, 23, pictured in hospital after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2023. Ball’s symptoms started in February 2023, but it was thought that nothing was wrong for several months.

Chloe Ball / @chlxe54

Ovarian cancer is notoriously hard to diagnose, particularly in the early stages, because there will often be no symptoms at all. But Dr. Joshua Cohen, a board-certified gynecologic oncologist, urges women to speak with their physician about genetic risk factors, telling Newsweek that they “can take measures to prevent the cancer from developing.”

Cohen said: “Women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer are at increased risk, as are women who have previously had breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or endometrial cancer, and should be offered genetic testing.”

Cohen, the medical director of the gynecologic cancer program at City of Hope Orange County, says women need to “be vigilant” and know what is normal for them. “Talk with your medical team if something is abnormal, they’re there to help you,” he said.

Having a Hysterectomy and Surgical Menopause

After her initial shock subsided following the diagnosis, Ball refused to let cancer tear her family apart and she set her sights on the battle ahead. When discussing the surgery options, her surgeon suggested that she could keep her womb and one ovary so that she still had the option to expand her family in the future.

But for Ball, her priority was beating cancer for her 18-month-old daughter, Talullah, and that meant doing everything she could to rid her body of the disease, even if it made her infertile.

“Before I was diagnosed, my fiancé Jack and I already decided we were content as a family of three. I was offered a referral to to freeze my eggs, but we didn’t feel it was necessary. So, I opted to have a hysterectomy to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back anywhere else in that region. My focus was making sure I’m well enough for my daughter, not worrying about another child who doesn’t exist,” Ball said.

Chloe Ball's cancer journey
Chloe Ball pictured after surgery, and her surgery scar after electing to have a hysterectomy in November 2023. Ball chose to undergo a full hysterectomy at the age of 23 so she could maximize her…

Chloe Ball / @chlxe54

The hysterectomy was done in November 2023, and although she had to make a lifechanging decision at just 23 years old and was also immediately sent her into a surgical menopause, Ball doesn’t regret her decision. As soon as she’d recovered from the surgery, she was ready to start chemotherapy in January 2024.

Having done two of her six rounds of chemotherapy so far, Ball has had to deal with the physical toll that’s taken on her body too. And while she considered giving up treatment at one point, she knew she had to keep going for her daughter.

“I have to get up to take care of her, rather than staying in bed and feeling sorry for myself all day,” she added.

While she’d seen the impact of cancer from afar, she “never thought it was a possibility” for her, especially so early in her life. Now, she shares her story to raise awareness and ensure other young women don’t ignore the possible warning signs.

In November, she took to TikTok (@chloebx23) to reveal her diagnosis and show that it can happen to people who are young and otherwise healthy. The post received over 59,000 views, and Ball has continued to document her cancer journey through the highs and lows.

Ball said: “It has changed my life in a lot of ways, but I think it’s making me stronger. I’m grateful that it was caught in the early stages. It’s been a massive struggle for me and my loved ones, and it does make me feel sad, but I’m also glad that my daughter doesn’t know what’s going on.

“There’s a lot of worry, but I think that’s expected, and I don’t feel sad at not being able to have more children now. I’m just grateful to have been blessed with my beautiful daughter.”

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