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'They thought it was bad period pains, but I had a cyst the size of a grapefruit' Now teen's on a mission to prevent other girls suffering what she went through.

Byline: zoe chamberlain zoe.chamberlain@reachplc.com

WHEN 15-year-old Megan Biddle stood in her school uniform crying on a maternity ward, people might have assumed it was because she was pregnant. They couldn't have been more wrong.

The Solihull schoolgirl had just been told she needed to have her second ovary removed, which meant she was unlikely ever to be able to have a baby.

Megan had already had to have her right ovary removed at the age of 14 after doctors found a tumour the size of a grapefruit.

She had been complaining to her GP about crippling period pain for months and her mum Tina eventually decided to pay for her to be treated privately.

Shockingly, the surgeon said that, had they left it any longer, the tumour might have burst and killed Megan.

Yet Megan and her mum had to fight for treatment all the way through because gynaecological issues like these are so rare in young girls.

Having survived, Megan, now 16, who has a brother Ryan, 19, has decided to make it her mission to ensure that other girls do not face the same struggle.

Megan, who won a Courageous Kids Award in Birmingham last month, is now setting up a charity to build a gynaecological unit for children at Heartlands Hospital, where the surgeon who saved her life is based. She recalled: "My periods were so heavy and painful that I'd be curled up on the floor and unable to stand up properly."

She went to the GP and tried the medication she was given but it didn't help. Eventually, she was referred for an ultrasound scan but that took three months to come through "It turned out that I had a tumour the size of a grapefruit. It was 10cm wide," she said. "They put a red alarm on my scan but I was told I'd still have to be put on a waiting list to have it removed.

"My mum spoke to a nurse about it, and was told I needed to get it out straight away because it was full of toxic fluid. If it burst, it could get into my bloodstream and kill me.

"But my GP didn't really know what to do because it's not something you really see in teenagers.

"My mum is a working single mum. We're not rich. But she paid for me to see a private doctor called Dr Irani at Spire Parkway in Solihull . "She told me she needed to take away my right ovary completely. I was so scared but she saved my life.

"She said she didn't know how I'd even been walking, let alone dancing and carrying on with my life.

"She called me a miracle, and said I was her youngest patient to have had that happen. No one knows why."

Megan's tumour was sent off for tests. Thankfully, it was benign.

"It did cause me a lot of anxiety," she said. "I lost the back part of my hair and I became really self-conscious. My scars didn't help. I already had scars on my shoulders because I'd had to have earlier operations.

"Now, I had scars on my stomach and, as a young teen, that's not right. I dealt with it and got better but then, in February 2016, I started getting pains again.

"No one believed it could be happening to me again because it was so rare the first time.

"I had to beg my doctor for a scan and I went for one three months later. It showed I had another mass, this time a 6cm cyst on my left ovary.

"I'd already lost my right ovary and knew, if I lost my left one, I was never going to be able to have children. That's a lot to take on when you're 15 years old.

"I had to have my pre-op observations taken and the only place that could be done was on the maternity ward. I remember being stood there in my school uniform crying, feeling judged by all the pregnant women around me who thought I was a pregnant teenager when actually I was crying because I thought I'd never be able to have kids."

Dr Irani referred her to a specialist in Oxford who takes eggs from children who are having chemotherapy so they still have a chance of having a baby later.

After her surgery, this time at Heartlands Hospital, she was told her cyst hadn't grown over her ovary so they hadn't had to remove all of it.

"I was over the moon," she said. "It meant I could still try to conceive on my own but I also had IVF eggs if I needed them.

"The doctor said I'd be bedbound for some time but, three days later, I had my GCSE English literature exam - I took it early in Year 10 - so I hobbled and dragged myself into school. The teachers told me to go home but I wanted to do it.

"I can't remember a word I wrote but I passed. That felt like such an achievement."

Going into Year 11, Megan suffered more anxiety because she feared it was going to happen again and this time during her main GCSEs. She started seeing a counsellor and was diagnosed with depression and PTSD.

She did well in her GCSEs, though, especially dance, which boosted her confidence, especially as she'd been told to give up her dream of becoming a dancer due to hypermobility issues.

"Everyone just thought I had bad period pains," she said "If we hadn't have pushed for a scan and my tumour had burst, I could have died. We had to pay thousands of pounds to save my life."

Now she is launching her own charity to raise money for a children's gynaecology unit at Heartlands Hospital.

"It will be a place to go where kids will feel safe and looked after, and someone will say you'll be OK, rather than being left to think I'm going to die," she explained "I know I've got to raise a lot of money but I'm prepared to do it. I'm planning a festival at my sixth-form and school, Alderbrook in Solihull, in February to raise funds.

"People don't really know about child gynaecology problems so I want to raise awareness by talking about what happened to me in schools, too.

"I'm just a normal girl and if this happened to me, it can happen to anyone."
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Publication:Solihull News (Solihull, Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 21, 2018
Words:1080
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