IT’S been just two months since her beloved daughter lost her battle with ovarian cancer, but Flintshire mother Jenny Martin is determined to do everything she can to raise awareness of the disease.
Zoe Martin, from Hawarden, was only 32 when she died in July, less than two years after being diagnosed with cancer, following years of stomach problems.
But tragically, her mother believes that had the cancer been detected early enough, Zoe’s death could have been prevented.
Now Jenny is urging young women everywhere to demand further tests from their doctors if they feel something isn’t quite right.
“Zoe was full of life, very fit and healthy, always exercised and really looked after herself,” explains Jenny, 64, who lives with her husband Harold in Jefferson Road, Ewloe.
“You could never tell by looking at her but she always suffered from a dodgy tummy, and was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome after constant visits to her GP.
“She was always advised by doctors to change her diet and she tried all sorts of foods that were supposed to help but they didn’t,” adds Jenny.
Not long after she got married in 2008, Zoe, who worked as a press officer for Flintshire Sports Development, went with her husband David to work in Australia for a short time, where her symptoms became more serious.
“We went over to visit them in late 2009 and she had caught a flu bug which seemed to weaken her immune system. Her stomach swelled up so much she couldn’t fasten her skirts,” remembers Jenny.
“I told her she had to get more tests, which she did and she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly afterwards.
“I remember when she phoned me. I just felt sick.
“It was the worst possible news – I was aware of ovarian cancer and I knew it was usually fatal.”
Zoe, whose cancer was diagnosed as stage three, endured a hysterectomy, followed by chemotherapy which failed to combat the disease, and then moved back to Flintshire in August last year where David became her full-time carer.
Zoe battled her illness for almost another year before moving to Hope House hospice in Wrexham, where she passed away in the presence of her family, on July 18 this year.
“To look at her face, you’d never have known she was suffering so much, and that’s what her doctors remarked on,” says Jenny.
“Perhaps if she hadn’t looked so fit and healthy it might have been detected earlier.
“Her death was a shock even though we had expected it for 20 months. Zoe fought to the bitter end.
“We are still in a state of shock after living through a nightmare but my mission is to draw as much attention as possible to ovarian cancer,” she adds.
“Young women need to get tested for it if they think anything is wrong – even if it costs money, it’s worth it. Ask for full blood tests. At the end of the day, we are all responsible for our health.
“Zoe was an inspiration who touched so many lives. Nothing can bring her back but if I can manage to save even one life then I have done my job.”