I planned my dream wedding from a hospital bed after my ‘swollen’ belly turned out to be ovarian cancer: Here’s what I want everyone to know
A mother planned her dream wedding from her hospital bed after her slightly ‘swollen’ stomach was found to be ovarian cancer.
Angela Beckhouse was looking forward to marrying the love of her life, but her upcoming ceremony was thrown into chaos when she received the devastating diagnosis in May 2022.
The 42-year-old, from Warwick, Queensland, had a 16 cm tumor growing on her ovary but didn’t know anything was wrong until she noticed the swelling. There were no further complaints and she experienced no pain.
“One morning I woke up, took a shower, looked down and my belly was enlarged, which I thought was very strange,” Angela told FEMAIL.
At the time, she and her current husband Paul Butler, 50, were on a six-week vacation and eating more than usual, so she thought her stomach was bloated.
Angela Beckhouse (pictured) was diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer in May 2022. The 42-year-old had a six-inch tumor growing on her ovary, but she didn’t know anything was wrong until she noticed her stomach was distended.
Angela and now husband Paul Butler, 50, were forced to put together their wedding plans from the hospital
When she got home, she visited her doctor, who thought she was pregnant, and sent her for further examination.
‘It was Easter then and there were so many holidays, so it was difficult to make arrangements. It was a slow process,” she said.
For three weeks she was worried about her stomach and why it was suddenly so swollen. Unbeknownst to her, her fluid also gradually accumulated, making it worse.
Angela experienced no symptoms, no pain and has no family history of ovarian cancer
“Every minute that went by I thought it was getting worse,” she said.
Little did she know that this was the only warning sign pointing to something far more sinister.
An ultrasound and CT scan then confirmed her worst fear: It was cancer.
“The appointment was so hazy after he told me what it was. I was completely out of my mind, letting go of all my emotions and bursting into tears in the car,” she said.
‘I was in complete shock. There are a million different types of cancer, but I’ve never known anyone with ovarian cancer.’
The cancer turned out to be stage two, as it “started to spread,” but not to other organs.
She previously described her lifestyle as “nothing special” as she was almost never sick and ate healthy.
Although there are traces of cancer in her family history, she is the first to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Before starting chemotherapy, the couple married (Angela and Paul pictured with their two children and stepchildren – pictured left to right Riley, Jakob, Paul, Angela, Maddy, Riley)
The two wed on June 15 in Noosa – five days before Angela started treatment
What is ovarian cancer and what are the symptoms?
Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumor in one or both ovaries.
The ovaries are made up of three main types of cells: epithelial cells, stromal cells, and germ cells. Each of these cells can develop into a different type of tumor.
The average age at which women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer is 64 years. The diagnosis is mainly made in women older than 50 years; However, cases have been diagnosed in younger women.
There are often no obvious signs of ovarian cancer, but symptoms may include:
- swollen abdomen
- difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- frequent or urgent urination
- back, abdominal or pelvic pain
- constipation or diarrhea
- irregular menstruation
- pain during intercourse
- unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Pap smears do not detect ovarian cancer and there is no routine test
After the diagnosis, the doctors initiated Angela’s treatment plan, which began May 20 with surgery to remove the tumor. She also underwent a full hysterectomy in hopes of removing all traces of cancer.
“I’m glad I’ve already had kids, but I feel like I’m missing some of my femininity right now,” she said.
While recovering from surgery, she spent the next four weeks throwing plans to get married with her then-fiancée.
The wedding had already been postponed once due to Covid and the couple did not want to postpone the celebration any further.
“We had to find a celebrant and photographer, but also needed a flexible date because we didn’t know how long it would take me to recover from the surgery. It was a pretty stressful time,” she says.
While in the hospital, Angela and Paul discussed wedding songs, confirmed the location, and told their 15 guests their plans.
Unfortunately, she was unable to buy wedding dresses with her daughter and picked up the desired dress that day, despite not trying it on beforehand.
The couple recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary
The two wed on June 15 in Noosa – five days before Angela started chemotherapy.
It was a day full of mixed emotions. The lead up to my wedding day was not how I ever imagined it, but it was joyful and memorable,” said Angela.
“There were a lot of tears planning the wedding, I thought about how long Paul and I would have stayed together, or if I would die.”
Angela then began chemotherapy on June 20 for 12 weeks and she soon lost her hair.
“I was so emotional because losing your hair is like losing your identity: you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror and it reminds you that you have cancer,” she said.
Fortunately, the treatment was successful and she is now in remission.
The couple recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary by spending a night in Brisbane, attending a musical and enjoying quality time at home.
“We bought a van in January and we look forward to traveling and embarking on new adventures,” said Angela.
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