Welcome back, Jo

My name is Jo Harris. I’m 48 years old, a wife and a mother of two gorgeous teenage boys. I’m also a property consultant at Devine Property.

In April last year I started to feel a bit run down and noticed some subtle changes in my body, including slight pain in my lower back and more frequent urination. It was a couple of weeks later that I started to feel really unwell and discovered two lumps in the left side of my neck. After a referral from my GP, I had an ultrasound on my neck which showed the lymph nodes were reactive and probably just the result of an infection in my body from a cold or virus.

A few weeks passed and they didn’t go down, and by that time the pain in my lower back had increased and what I believed was a UTI had developed. After another visit to the GP I was given a script to clear up the UTI and also a referral for an ultrasound.

On 1st June, 2019 I was diagnosed with cancer. They weren’t sure at that stage what type of cancer as there were multiple tumors in my pelvis. After a number of further blood tests, including a biopsy of the lymph nodes in my neck, I was referred to a Gynaecologic Oncologist and it was confirmed I had advanced ovarian cancer. The biopsy had confirmed the cancer had spread through my body. Just like that, my world was tipped upside down.

Nine months on after 6 rounds of brutal chemo and major surgery which included a radical hysterectomy and a splenectomy, I am in remission. I am stable for now and I’m monitored closely with regular testing. There is a very high chance of re-occurrence – for me that is not an option.

On 20th January I returned to work at Devine Property doing what I love. The support from my husband, family and friends has been huge, including my employers Mark and Libby Devine.

Over 1500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is only 46%. There is no early detection test and a pap smear does not pick it up. Funding for research into Ovarian Cancer is desperately needed and lots of it in order to change the face of this insidious disease known as the “silent killer”.

S.H.E (Support Hope and Education) Gynaecological Cancer Group

S.H.E Gynaecological Cancer Group is here to raise awareness of all forms of Gynaecological Cancer here in Tasmania. The women and their families that have already been affected Gynaecological Cancer deserve all the support they can get. We know the support that is on offer at the moment just isn’t quite enough and S.H.E would like to see this change.

We have a lot of plans being put into place that we have been creating over the past three years. 2020 is just the start of things to come for those women with Gynaecological Cancer and their families and we have plenty of room for friends to help us.

To find out more, check out SHECan Tasmania on Facebook.