Ruby McKinnon's shock overnight ovarian cancer discovery
IT was supposed to be like any other morning for Ruby McKinnon when she woke up at home after enjoying a night out with friends.
But for the 17-year-old, this particular August morning in 2015 changed her life forever.
Waking to a swollen, painful feeling in her abdomen, Ruby peeled back the blankets on her bed to reveal a sight she never expected to see develop overnight. Her flat belly had ballooned to the size of a rockmelon.
"I remember just staring at my belly," the now 18-year-old, who lives in Windsor, Canada, told news.com.au.
"It had gone from being flat the night before to this huge, solid bump a few hours later.
"It was so big, I looked 5 months pregnant. I started freaking out before calling out to my mum, who also thought I was pregnant."
But after rushing to a clinic, a pregnancy test came back negative - puzzling both the 17-year-old and her concerned mother.
"The nurse at the clinic thought that even after the test I might still be pregnant," she said.
"There was no other explanation, so I had an ultrasound booked for the following week.
"But after a few days - the bump started to grow and grow, and I started to get really worried."
Rushing to the emergency room at her local hospital, Ms McKinnon never expected to be told the lump wasn't actually a baby but rather a tumour caused by stage 3 ovarian cancer.
It took eight hours of sitting in an emergency room, shuffling between scans and appointments, before the doctor called her into his office to reveal her diagnosis.
"I was so worried, they had done all these ultrasounds but wouldn't say what was happening to me," she said.
"I just wanted to go home, but then he sat me down and told me that I had a large mass on my ovaries - a tumour.
"He was so blunt about it. He mentioned cancer, and then used the word surgery. I was in shock, so I just ran out and went across the road onto a stranger's front lawn and started crying."
From the diagnosis, Ruby's life quickly became filled with appointments and consultations before she was soon admitted to surgery to have the 17cm mass removed from her ovaries.
"Each appointment the news kept getting worse," she said.
"From confirming the cancer, to talking through chemotherapy and when I'd lose my hair.
"It was really hard for my family. They tried to hide their upset from me because they knew it would upset me even more.
"But when the doctors told my mum that the tumour was 17cm in size, I had no idea it was that big.
"It was very surreal. Hearing someone say something of that size was growing in my body is very strange."
For the removal of the tumour, Ruby went to the nearby city of London, which is two hours from her Canadian hometown.
"I wasn't scared until they started to wheel me away from my parents," she said.
"I could've easily died on that operating table, and when the operation took an hour longer than expected, my parents really freaked out."
Following three hours of surgery, the entire tumour - as well as part of her lymph nodes - were removed.
"They were going to cut up to my belly button, but it had spread so they cut further up.
"I still have pains from where I had the surgery, but it's been just over a year and I'm now in remission."
Ruby decided to share her experience and journey on Reddit, because too many people go through cancer and treatment without a hand to hold.
"My friends and family were great," she said.
"But they didn't know what to say or how to react, which was OK because at the time I didn't know what to say or how to react either.
"I didn't feel like I had anyone who understood, and so I wanted to be able to offer that to people. But I didn't expect the response I got."
Following Ruby's Reddit post which she posted on Tuesday, her story was met with mostly positive responses. But she said that there were a select few who felt the images that accompanied her experience made her look "like a whore".
"Some people were criticising me for posting the pictures of my stomach and scars by calling me a whore," she said.
"People said I shouldn't be running around naked and showing my scar. But it's on my stomach, so how do I avoid not lifting my shirt to show my scars?"
One respondent to Ruby's Reddit images suggested it was one of "the hottest things they'd seen" suggesting the combination of a scar, underwear and "very hot body" was enough to drive his "reptile brain crazy".
"He tried to turn my trauma into something sexual, and that upsets me," she said.
Ruby McKinnon, who has now been in remission for just over a year, is hoping to raise money for other children battling cancer. As a singer/songwriter, she is selling her single 'Morphine Dreams' for a minimum donation of US$1.
100% of proceeds will go to the Childhood Cancer Foundation in March this year.