From palliative care to remission: Ovarian cancer survivor promotes awareness

Julie Ranford was told there was no hope when they discovered she had ovarian cancer. Today she is 'miraculously' in remission.
Julie Ranford was told there was no hope when they discovered she had ovarian cancer. Today she is 'miraculously' in remission.

JULIE Ranford does not know how long she had ovarian cancer before she was diagnosed and prescribed palliative chemotherapy.

In September 2014, when a CT scan showed the cancer in her lymphatic system, spleen and close to her lungs, a radical hysterectomy was not an option, only palliative care.

“I thought I’d just start chemo and give me a hysterectomy and be on my way but I was told I would only be offered palliative chemo,” Mrs Ranford said.

“I went home and my family fell apart.”

Mrs Ranford – then 57 years old – began decluttering and cleaning up her home, taking up naturopathic remedies and switching to an alkaline diet alongside her chemotherapy and her participation in a drug trail.

By the end of October a blood test showed her cancer rating was in rapid decline.

“I was getting remarkable blood results,” Mrs Ranford said.

“My cancer marker was 984 and within a couple of months it had gone down by half and my doctor said it was miraculous.”

She was sent for a radical hysterectomy in December, resumed chemotherapy and the drug in January and by May 2015, she was in remission.

Today her cancer marker is 4.

“It feels like a dream, it feels like ‘did that happen to me?’ it was a whirlwind and all happened so fast,” Mrs Ranford said.

Mrs Ranford hopes her story will mobilise women in Australia to fundraise for early detection.

Ovarian cancer is a notorious ‘sleeper cancer’ regularly going undiagnosed due to its insidious symptoms such as tiredness and bloating.

“I hope women know the signs of ovarian cancer know your body and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to get checked,” she said.

“At the moment there is no early detection, nothing, the only way they can check is an internal ultra sound and unless you have a family history doctors are reluctant to do it.”

On February 11, Mrs Ranford will be the guest speaker at the Unique Events-run ovarian cancer fundraiser at Nicholson’s Bar and Grill in Canning Vale.

The high tea is from 1:30-3:30pm and tickets can be bought for $40 by emailing or calling the venue on 9455 1800.

Ovarian Cancer awareness day is February 22.

How common is ovarian cancer?

In 2012, there were 1,378 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in Australia.

In 2017, it is estimated that 1,550 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in Australia.

In 2012, the age-standardised incidence rate was 10.5 cases per 100,000 females.

In 2017, it is estimated that the age-standardised incidence rate will be 10.4 cases per 100,000 females.

In 2014, ovarian cancer was estimated to be the ninth most commonly diagnosed cancer in females in Australia.

In 2012, the risk of a woman being diagnosed with ovarian cancer by her 85th birthday was 1 in 82.

In 2017, it is expected the incidence of ovarian cancer will increase with age until age group 65 – 69. It will then decrease for age group 70 – 95+.

“the last thing on the bucket list is to move closer to her children.

She has just accepted an offer.

Early September 2014

“I didn’t realise there was really anything wrong,”

“I had found a lump in my groin and had a bad cough and I mentioned to my husband and asked him to come to the doctor with me,”

“The doctor sent me straight for a CT scan, and that’s when I knew something was wrong,”

“The scan found the secondary tumours before they found the primary… there was cancer near my lungs, in my spleen and through my lymphatic system,”

“I saw the oncologist and he brought out my scans and when I saw the x-ray of my scans it was all throughout my body,”

Started naturopathic treatment alongside mainstream treatment.

“A lot of turmeric, alkalising, cutting out sugar and doing hyperbaric,”

“My husband asked if I could go on trials and I was put on an avastin trial as well as chemo and natural therapy,”

“It was good, it gave me a focus and gave me something to fight with,”

“By the end of

“In December I went in for a radical hysterectomy, and by the end of January I was back on treatment and then by May I was in remission,”

“My cancer marker went from 984 to 4,”

In remission, haven’t seen a doctor for three months.

“I was cleaning out my cupboards and decluttering because I thought my life was over,”

“I did have bloating, and I was going to the toilet more often and I was tired but I always found a way to blame in on my life that was hectic,”

“Superannunation benefit paid out,”

“I didn’t listen to my body properly, I thought as a woman I was pretty lucky,”“I hope women who read the story, who are touched by cancer in any way stay positive, and focused and try other forms of treatment alongside traditional ones,”

“I hope by fundraising we can get an early detection test for ovarian cancer, I would like to see that for my daughters and grand daughters,”

I did a lot of alternative treatment, but I had nothing to lose, I could have given up,”

“I would like to see women stay positive and stay positive,”

Three children and seven grand children.

Lost her hair,

“Very selective about who we saw, you had to be careful, I have numbness in both toes but apart from that I’m well.”

“Taken a family holiday.