Sharan Scali, 31, shares her story about being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome—and then finding out the cysts could be cancerous.
I’ve always experienced random bouts of bloating. I’m a personal trainer and nutritionist. I know it’s not normal for a 25-year-old girl to be walking around looking like she’s six months pregnant after eating. I went to many doctors who would do a basic test panel and tell me everything’s fine. I asked one doctor who specialized in women’s hormone health for an ultrasound, and she said, “No, all your testing is normal.” She made me fill out a mental health questionnaire. Then, one ob-gyn diagnosed me with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Another ob-gyn said I didn’t have it. At that point, I was very confused.
I’d been married for about three years when I decided to go to a fertility clinic. I didn’t even know if I wanted kids. I just wanted to know if I did have PCOS and if it would affect my chances of having children. At the fertility clinic, they asked if I wanted an ultrasound of my ovaries, which I’d never been offered before. As soon as they did it, they asked if I knew I had cysts growing on my ovaries. They said one ovary had a 12-centimetre cyst and the other a 10-centimetre cyst. Each ovary is only around two centimetres.
They said I would need a minor laparoscopic surgery. If I got pregnant with those cysts, it would be a big complication. They said there was no rush, so I went on vacation and had my phone off for a couple of weeks. When I turned my phone on at the airport, there was a message to call the clinic immediately about test results. They said the cysts might be cancerous. And if a cyst burst, I could lose my ovaries completely. I went to the surgeon and was put on an eight-month wait-list—with these potentially cancerous cysts on my ovaries.
I have a very active job, for which I use my body every single day. I was told not only that any movement could cause these cysts to burst, but also that nothing needed to be done immediately.
I started to have bad pressure and pain; I couldn’t sleep through the night. I’d wake up to pee every hour because everything was just pushed so hard in my stomach. About a month after I saw the surgeon, I went to an ER. They put me on painkillers and said they were going to do emergency surgery. I had suffered some trauma to my ovaries from ovarian torsion. They rushed me into surgery and saved my ovaries. But my menstrual cycle never came back. So I ended up back at the fertility clinic. They said if I wanted to have a kid, I needed to start trying now. We ended up going the IVF route. I went from being a healthy 25-year-old who didn’t know if she wanted kids to pushing for IVF right at 27. That was three years ago. I’m finally 15 weeks pregnant.
It’s been a really hard couple of years. It’s something I haven’t been able to open up to anyone about. But by sharing my story, I hope more people can start to take the initiative when they know something is wrong. Don’t trust what other people say about your body. You know it best.