It was nothing but devastating when a 27-year-old mother of three minors was told that she has stage 4 ovarian cancer last year and was only given a few months to live, but she decided to fight till the very end and battle the deadly disease. But what is more shocking for her is the fact that total strangers, people she doesn’t know at all, say that she is faking her illness because she “looks too good to be dying of cancer”.
Jemma McGowan’s life completely changed in February 2021 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer and has only been given until May 2022 to live. Shortly after her diagnosis, she started a treatment and documenting her journey on Instagram, regularly updating her Instagram followers with the progress. While she receives a lot of support from both her followers and people she doesn’t know, a group of cruel strangers started claiming that she is “faking it.”
Jemma, from Northern Ireland, decided to share her story with everyone saying that the cruel people’s comments don’t bother her as she is desperately trying to find ways to prolong her life. According to her, the comments give her additional strength in battling the disease as she is desperate to see her three minor children, all under five, grow up for as long as possible.
“I get sent at least one nasty comment per week on social media, Jemma said. “I regularly get told that I’m faking having cancer. And there’s someone else who keeps telling me that I don’t have terminal cancer as I look too good to be ill. I don’t really get upset or let it get to me as what they’re saying isn’t true. Strangers don’t know what they’re talking about. I feel like writing back ‘what more proof do you want? Do you want my blood? If I could give it to you I would!’”
While she was only six weeks pregnant with her second child in 2016, the then 22-yer-old Jemma was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent a successful surgery and she was told by doctors the cancer was completely removed and was not expected to come back in the future. Everything was fine for years until January last year, when Jemma discovered a lump on her body while she was 36 weeks pregnant with her third child.
She questioned it with her midwife, and was fast-tracked for an MRI scan and admitted to the hospital to receive steroid treatment to get her baby ready for an early planned C section, which took place just weeks later. Just 24 hours after giving birth, Jemma was told that her cancer had returned – this time with a tumor in her left lung and multiple tumors in her pelvic and pubic bones.
Jemma knew she was not prepared to give up and was ready to fight for herself and her children. Two weeks after giving birth, she started chemotherapy. Jemma went through three rounds of two different types of chemotherapy in Belfast, resulting in her hair falling out, as well as vomiting. But three months later, in May 2021, doctors discovered three new tumors growing and decided to cancel the chemo treatment because it was not providing the expected results.
Doctors advised her to ‘get her affairs’ in order, giving her a prognosis of just 3-15 months to live. But motivated by the desire to be a mummy to her children for as long as possible, Jemma refused to accept the diagnosis. Although the chemo made her week, she decided to start a research alternative and holistic treatment for cancer. Later in the summer, she even visited a Mexico based controversial clinic offering alternative treatment for cancer patients.
A GoFundMe campaign was set since last year and that’s how she paid for her trip to Mexico twice and for her more than $3,000 worth of monthly therapy, part sent from the Mexico hospital and part bought in London. Jemma now feels like she is on the right path and is adamant that she is able to ‘heal herself’ and prolong her life. Appearing in a recent documentary, she encourages every cancer patient to not give up and battle the deadly disease.