A 14 year-old girl dismissed cramps in her abdomen as period pains – only to find out she was suffering from ovarian cancer. JaKayla Coggins initially took over-the-counter medicine for the aches after they began in December 2019, but found the painkillers had little effect.
JaKayla and her mom Sheena Bowman visited their local emergency room in Chesterfield, Virginia, in January after the teen suffered such severe pain she was left unable to sleep. An ultrasound was performed, with the mom and daughter shocked to discover JaKayla had a huge mass in her abdomen, with further tests confirming that the growth was ovarian cancer.
Bowman told Today: ‘We were just shocked and we cried. Going through this process was really really hard. The doctor was saying that we caught it just in time — at the beginning stage. It was so large he wanted to do the surgery right away because he wasn’t sure if it was pressing against her kidneys or causing any type of damage.’
Shortly afterwards, doctors removed the growth, as well as one of JaKayla’s ovaries. Afterwards, she began chemotherapy, with the teenager suffering such a severe fever in March doctors feared she may have coronavirus. JaKayla’s Covid-19 test later came back negative.
The teenager continued grueling chemotherapy treatment, with doctors telling her she’d cleared the cancer in April. While grateful to have seen-off the illness, JaKayla is upset that having one of her ovaries removed may cause issues if she wishes to have children later in life.
Her mom explained: ‘She ended up crying at that part. She was like, “Well I eventually do want to have kids.”‘
Bowman added: ‘Throughout this process she has been strong. She hasn’t really shown any type of sadness. She has a great personality, (which helped her) through the whole process, always smiling.’ JaKayla was disappointed that the coronavirus outbreak stopped her returning to school to see her friends, although her pals and teachers held a parade past her house to welcome her home after she completed treatment.
Ovarian cancer has been dubbed the silent killer, because sufferers may have no symptoms. JaKayla did not experience any bloating despite the size of the growth forming inside her.
Doctors told Bowman that while rare in younger woman, girls as young as her daughter are potentially at risk from the disease.
She has now urged others to be vigilant and follow their gut feeling if they are worried about their health. Bowman explained: ‘Listen to your body. Your body is going to tell you (when you’re sick) and go with your instinct. If you’re hurting, you’re the only person who knows.’
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