Inspirational new mum from Wigan diagnosed with terminal cancer wants to help others battling the disease
Estelle Wignall, 26, was devastated to be told the ovarian cancer she beat two years earlier had returned and she had just two to three years to live.
But she says she is “positive”, wants to make memories with her seven-month-old daughter Brooke and has already done her bit for two charities supporting other people with cancer.
Estelle, who lives in Hindley, said: “I am feeling positive. I am trying alternative things with supplements, alongside chemotherapy. A lot of people have gone into remission, so I’m hoping I can be one of them.
“The average is two to three years’ expectancy, so I’m hoping to blow that out of the water and get to see my little girl grow up, or at least to where she remembers me.”
Estelle was diagnosed with grade 1A ovarian cancer in 2017, aged just 22, and had a tumour removed, along with her right ovary and Fallopian tube.
She was able to get on with her life, working as a receptionist and marrying husband Mike in June 2019 in Texas - a location chosen for her passion for singing and love of country music.
The couple had their first child, Brooke, and discussed Estelle’s having a hysterectomy in future to prevent the cancer returning.
But in October Estelle started to feel unwell, suffering from bloating and pain in her stomach.
“That’s really all I got, and tiredness,” she said. “Other than that, a lack of appetite was a big one but I was on a diet so I didn’t think much of that because I was eating less.”
Estelle had urgent scans and a tumour was found. This time, she had stage four cancer, which had spread to her liver and lungs, and the condition was terminal.
She said: “I was devastated. I have a baby so it’s a bit different now.”
It was a particular shock as Estelle was having six-monthly check-ups after her initial diagnosis. She says all the usual tests were not carried out at an appointment just a few months before the new tumour was discovered, so it may have been missed.
Estelle started to receive chemotherapy on Wednesday, as doctors hope to manage the tumours for as long as they can and, hopefully, shrink them.
The family has moved in with Estelle’s mother, who is helping to care for Brooke while she is unwell.
But before beginning the treatment, Estelle decided to have her long hair shaved off and donated it to Little Princess Trust, a charity which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment or other conditions.
Estelle said: “I knew my hair was going to fall out anyway with chemo and you can’t donate it when you’ve had chemo. It was a waste of good hair. I thought a little girl might as well get a good wig from it.”
It was broadcast live on Facebook, with husband Mike, 25, also going under the clippers, as well as her brothers Jamie Grove and Kieran Turley, and family friend Danny Foster.
Estelle raised nearly £4,000 for ovarian cancer charity Ovacome.
Her effort was backed by Nicola Roe, from Leigh, a stranger who found out about her fund-raiser on Facebook and decided to shave her hair off too. She raised more than £1,200 to support the family, as both Estelle and Mike have not been able to work.
Estelle’s brother Jamie is also organising a sponsored walk up Snowdon in April to raise money for her, with nearly 100 people already pledging to take part.
Now, Estelle is focusing on her treatment and spending time with her loved ones, particularly her baby daughter.
She said: “We are hoping to take her to Disneyland and we want to take her to Texas where we got married. They are the two things we would love to do.”
And she urged anyone with suspicious symptoms to ensure they see a doctor.
Estelle said: “You don’t really hear of ovarian cancer very much and know what to look out for.
“People do know to look for lumps on their breasts, for example. This is very much like IBS.
“It took three months last time before doctors did a scan and they just put it down to an infection in my pelvis because of my age. People need to know about the symptoms and they should have the CA125 blood test. I think it should be standard that if anybody does go in with any symptoms, they should get the test.”
Ovacome says the main signs of ovarian cancer are bloating, difficulty eating and feeling full more quickly, feeling abdominal and pelvic pain most days, and changes in urination or bowel habits.
To find out more or donate, go to www.ovacome.org.uk.
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