Cancer survivor Jill Johnson gets in practice for an “Afternoon Teal” that will help lift the profile of ovarian cancer.
Cancer survivor Jill Johnson gets in practice for an “Afternoon Teal” that will help lift the profile of ovarian cancer. Renee Pilcher

Silent killer no match

THE silent killer that made an attempt on Glenwood woman Jill Johnson's life in 1997 came back for a second go in 2008, only to be defeated again.

Jill's dual victory came at a price: she left hospital the second time weighing just 37kg, but with a fierce passion to fight the disease that kills one in every three women diagnosed with it.

February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and to help raise awareness of the disease and much-needed money to fight it, Jill will host an "Afternoon Teal" event downstairs at The Decks on Mary, on the corner of Mary and Channon Sts in Gympie on Saturday, February 18.

Jill's fight for survival began with a few symptoms any woman could feel from time to time, especially bloating and constipation.

She thought they were symptoms of menopause and that, at worst, she might have to give up beer.

But her discomfort was a sign of something far more sinister: two ovaries fused together by a burst tumour, blocking the bowel and requiring a full hysterectomy and six months of chemotherapy.

The surgery was a success and, with a good prognosis, Jill returned to work later that year, but continued her annual check-ups.

She and husband Bob retired from the Gold Coast to Glenwood in 2005, after looking everywhere from Bundaberg to Stanthorpe.

And then in 2008 Jill's check-up showed some worrying markers.

Jill went under the surgeon's knife for seven-and-a-half hours.

Doctors found a perforated diverticulation and a cancerous mass stuck to her bowel, urethra and small intestine.

She was in and out of hospital for more than two months, and went home with an ileostomy and nerve damage to her leg.

Jill is again in the clear, but has tests every six months.

"It just wasn't my time," she says with a tear in her eye.

Her advice to all women: don't ignore a thing, even if you think it's nothing.

"You know your own body," she said.

Inquiries: phone Jill on 54857 408.

For more information on ovarian cancer visit http://www.ovariancancer.net.au

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