A student has told how she was given just hours to live following her shock cancer diagnosis.

Libby Dodes, 23, from Derby, initially put her abdominal pain and a swollen tummy down to her endometriosis. 

But doctors eventually found a 23cm tumour lurking in her abdomen. Tests showed she had a rare and aggressive ovarian cancer.

At one point, Miss Dodes’ parents were told she was ‘going to die over the weekend’. 

She has since undergone four rounds of chemo, as well as an ultra-radical debulking surgery — which involved removal of the mass, lymph nodes from the pelvic area, a hysterectomy, and the removal of part of her peritoneum and appendix.

Libby Dodes, 23, (pictured) a keen jockey and student from Derby, put her abdominal pain and a swollen tummy down to her endometriosis

Libby Dodes, 23, (pictured) a keen jockey and student from Derby, put her abdominal pain and a swollen tummy down to her endometriosis

Libby Dodes, 23, (pictured) a keen jockey and student from Derby, put her abdominal pain and a swollen tummy down to her endometriosis

Now Miss Dodes, an avid jockey, needs super-strength chemo to continue to treat her small cell ovarian cancer.

Recalling her diagnosis in November 2023, Miss Dodes said: ‘When I found out it was cancer it was really hard. It doesn’t feel real.’

It was only caught after she fell off her horse that October, with her getting scans to check for a suspected broken pelvis. 

Miss Dodes added: ‘I think my horse knew and she saved my life. It’s not often I fall off her.

‘You never think it’s something that is going to happen to you.’

A CT scan revealed a 23cm tumour on her abdomen and she was diagnosed with the cancer in November 2023 following a biopsy

A CT scan revealed a 23cm tumour on her abdomen and she was diagnosed with the cancer in November 2023 following a biopsy

A CT scan revealed a 23cm tumour on her abdomen and she was diagnosed with the cancer in November 2023 following a biopsy

There are around 7,500 new ovarian cancer cases in the UK every year, according to Cancer Research UK. 

It can cause pain in your tummy, bloating and a loss of appetite.  

Small cell ovarian cancer is a rare type of ovarian cancer, which usually occurs in younger women.

It is often an aggressive cancer with poor long-term prognosis, according to the charity The Eve Appeal which funds research into gynaecological cancers.

It causes tumours which are solid, fleshy, and cream-coloured, the charity adds. 

Miss Dodes believes her cancer diagnosis is similar to that of Kate Middleton, who announced her own battle last month.

The Princess of Wales, 42, underwent major abdominal surgery and later revealed she was undergoing ‘preventative’ chemotherapy after cancer was discovered. 

Miss Dodes was transferred to Nottingham City Hospital where she was put on a chemotherapy in December 2023 to shrink the tumour. Doctors were then able to perform the eight-hour long operation in February 2024 to remove the cancer

Miss Dodes was transferred to Nottingham City Hospital where she was put on a chemotherapy in December 2023 to shrink the tumour. Doctors were then able to perform the eight-hour long operation in February 2024 to remove the cancer

Miss Dodes was transferred to Nottingham City Hospital where she was put on a chemotherapy in December 2023 to shrink the tumour. Doctors were then able to perform the eight-hour long operation in February 2024 to remove the cancer

Miss Dodes has struggled with bad periods since she was a teen and was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis following a laparoscopy in February 2023.

Endometriosis, considered an inflammatory condition, occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows elsewhere in the body.

She had a post operative infection after an op to remove her endometrial tissue

But in August last year she started to get a pain in her stomach.

Miss Dodes’ mother Vanessa, a finance manager, said: ‘Libby thought she had endometriosis in her bladder.

‘Doctors dismissed her symptoms.’

Miss Dodes now needs a high dose of chemotherapy to keep fighting the cancer, but her mother claims the Nottingham trust are refusing to fund it, leaving them with no option but to fundraise

Miss Dodes now needs a high dose of chemotherapy to keep fighting the cancer, but her mother claims the Nottingham trust are refusing to fund it, leaving them with no option but to fundraise

Miss Dodes now needs a high dose of chemotherapy to keep fighting the cancer, but her mother claims the Nottingham trust are refusing to fund it, leaving them with no option but to fundraise

The family are fundraising for immunotherapy treatment - which Miss Dodes will need to give her the best chance of beating any further cancer that might come back. But the family may now need the £79,913 already raised for private chemotherapy

The family are fundraising for immunotherapy treatment - which Miss Dodes will need to give her the best chance of beating any further cancer that might come back. But the family may now need the £79,913 already raised for private chemotherapy

The family are fundraising for immunotherapy treatment – which Miss Dodes will need to give her the best chance of beating any further cancer that might come back. But the family may now need the £79,913 already raised for private chemotherapy

Eventually Miss Dodes was referred to a specialist and had her appointment booked for October 24.

But while riding on October 22, she fell from her horse and was taken to hospital with a suspected fractured pelvis.

A CT scan revealed a 23cm mass in her abdomen. A biopsy in November showed it was cancer.

Her parents were told they could not perform surgery as the tumour was too close to her major organs and was impacting her heart rate.

Vanessa said: ‘They told us Libby was going to die over the weekend.

‘It was absolutely awful. It was the worst day of my life.’

Miss Dodes believes her cancer diagnosis is similar to Kate Middleton who announced her own cancer battle in March

Miss Dodes believes her cancer diagnosis is similar to Kate Middleton who announced her own cancer battle in March

Miss Dodes believes her cancer diagnosis is similar to Kate Middleton who announced her own cancer battle in March

But Miss Dodes pulled through and her mother managed to get her transferred to Nottingham City Hospital where she was put on a chemotherapy in December 2023 to shrink the tumour.

Doctors were then able to perform the eight-hour long operation in February 2024 to remove the cancer.

Miss Dodes now needs a high dose of chemotherapy to keep fighting the cancer, but her mother claims the trust are refusing to fund it, leaving them with no option but to fundraise.

She said: ‘We’re taking it treatment by treatment. We’re at the point where Libby needs a high dose of chemotherapy.

‘It’s been denied.’

Miss Dodes said: ‘If I want to beat this I need this.’

The family are fundraising for immunotherapy treatment – which Miss Dodes will need to give her the best chance of beating any further cancer that might come back.

But the family may now need the £79,913 already raised for private chemotherapy.

Dr Keith Girling, medical director at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) said: ‘We always try to do the best for our patients and seek to secure treatment options wherever possible.

‘We continue to support Libby and her family through this extremely challenging time.’

WHY OVARIAN CANCER IS CALLED A ‘SILENT KILLER’

About 80 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease.

At the time of diagnosis, 60 percent of ovarian cancers will have already spread to other parts of the body, bringing the five-year survival rate down to 30 percent from 90 percent in the earliest stage.  

It’s diagnosed so late because of its location in the pelvis, according to Dr Ronny Drapkin, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who’s been studying the disease for more than two decades.

‘The pelvis is like a bowl, so a tumor there can grow quite large before it actually becomes noticeable,’ Dr Drapkin told MailOnline.

The first symptoms to arise with ovarian cancer are gastrointestinal because tumors can start to press upward.

When a patient complains of gastrointestinal discomfort, doctors are more likely to focus on diet change and other causes than suggest an ovarian cancer screening.

Dr Drapkin said it’s usually not until after a patient endures persistent gastrointestinal symptoms that they will receive a screening that reveals the cancer.

‘Ovarian cancer is often said to be a silent killer because it doesn’t have early symptoms, when in fact it does have symptoms, they’re just very general and could be caused by other things,’ he said.

‘One of the things I tell women is that nobody knows your body as well as you do. If you feel something isn’t right, something’s probably not right.’

Source: Mail Online

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