A MIRACLE mum who twice survived cancer has spoken of her battle with the disease.
Gillian Luis-Ravelo, 50, from Browns Lane, Uckfield, was just 39 when she found out she had breast cancer – a year after she lost her mum to the same disease.
Eleven years later, she made the devastating discovery she had an advanced, aggressive form of ovarian cancer and when doctors operated they found a tumour the size of a football.
She said: “I remember I always felt really bloated. Because this can be a normal problem a lot of people are unaware they have it.
“A CT scan revealed there was a growth on one of my ovaries. I was referred to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and, as soon as I walked in, I could tell by the doctor’s face it wasn’t good news.
“I was prepared for him to tell me it was cancer, but not that it was so serious. I had to have a hysterectomy and they found it had attached itself to the bowel and bladder.
“I looked like I was six months pregnant, I remember thinking I just want this thing out of me.”
Doctors managed to remove the tumour and started her on a course of gruelling chemotherapy.
She continued: “The doctors were amazing, they did such a good job. It was quite an operation to have, and I lost a lot of blood.
“I also had a couple of hiccups with the chemo. They offered to not put me on the final run but I wanted it. I was always going to choose life.”
Keen to know if there was a link between developing the two cancers, Gillian visited specialists who found she had the hereditary BRCA 1 gene (a human tumour suppressor gene).
Tests showed her daughter and father also had it. Gillian said: “I have been so lucky with the support I have had through the treatment – my family, friends and work have all been wonderful.”
Now four years on, Gillian is free from the disease and doing well.
She is working with charity Target Ovarian Cancer and is organising a charity tennis tournament on June 9 at East Hoathly and Halland tennis club.
She added: “Now I feel fit and healthy. I wanted to do something to raise money, and thought what better than combining it with the sport I love. I had a positive outcome and I want to raise awareness of the disease.”