A mother who spent five years in “crippling” pain after doctors failed to spot her ovarian cancer is hoping to help others recognise the signs.
Zaynab Mirza, of Beaufort Park, Hendon, found out she had the disease when on holiday in Bahrain – despite spending five years in the care of doctors in London.
The 45-year-old is now determined to put her experience to good use by holding a fun day to raise awareness about the illness, which she says is often misdiagnosed.
Doctors in England told her she had a “normal” cyst on her right ovary when she began complaining of pain in 2009.
When she later fell pregnant with her daughter, Iman, now six, she had a troublesome nine months and was constantly in agony.
After giving birth, the pain would be so bad that at times she would spend days in bed – but doctors seemed unconcerned.
In August 2013 she visited her family in Bahrain and the pain was so bad her sister-in-law took her to see a consultant, who told her she had a tumour in her ovary which could be cancerous.
But after failing to secure an appointment on the NHS, in October 2013 she flew back to Bahrain to have it removed – and discovered that not only was it cancer, it had grown from 8cm to 21cm in one month.
She said: “I spent four years on painkillers. Nobody could get to the bottom of it, it was a very scary time. I was misdiagnosed as having IBS or fibroids.
“Slowly, things have begun improving. I had to have a full hysterectomy which just broke my heart as I always wanted more children.
“It’s been a crazy few months, but going back to Bahrain was the best thing I could have done – I could have died. It made me realise how little support there is for people in my shoes.”
On Thursday, she will hold a fun day to raise money and awareness about ovarian cancer and its symptoms at Stephens House in East End Road, Finchley.
Money from the event will be split between the Eve Appeal, Target Ovarian Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Action.
It will feature a kids lounge to help children understand cancer, a retail lounge, a beauty and pamper area, and meditation and education rooms.
She said: “Women have to fight for their care. So many other women are going through what I’m going through.
“If you’ve got abdominal bloating, feel full, have to go to the toilet 20 times a day – that’s not normal. I spent years thinking I was just bloated from a wheat allergy – I looked five months pregnant.
“Go and get checked out. It could save your life.”
The event will be held from noon to 10pm on Thursday, May 8.