A beauty queen has issued an urgent warning for everyone to ‘listen to their bodies’ after she ignored crippling stomach pain for months.
She was so unwell she spent days writing goodbye letters to her loved ones while doctors came up with a plan to remove the 15 centimeter growth.
‘Listen to your body! Especially women who put every weird feeling down to their menstrual cycle or hormones,’ she said.
‘Your body is a temple; it’s all we have to live in this beautiful world. Don’t take it for granted.’
Pancreatic cancer is often deadly – with a survival rate of just over 12 per cent.
It is expected to be Australia’s second-highest cancer killer by 2030. 4500 people are expected to be diagnosed in 2023 and of them it’s likely 3669 won’t survive past the first 12 months.
This is why, despite her ongoing health battle, the former Miss World Australia is considered ‘one of the lucky ones’.
She went through a gruelling, seven-hour surgery to remove the huge mass and was hooked up to nine different tubes in hospital for more than a week and fed a liquid diet to survive.
In the months prior, Ms Ciampa knew there was something wrong but admits she ignored the warning signs.
‘It felt like I had been punched in the back,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘I was constantly laying on the floor at work and going to physio. I thought I had hurt myself at the gym or maybe just slouching at my desk.’
Ms Ciampa said her heart rate would spike and she would suffer cramps randomly.
‘I’ve been in and out of the doctors since November last year trying to work out what was happening,’ she explained.
‘I had a cardiologist looking after me but it wasn’t until February when I was booked in for an abdominal ultrasound and that’s when I saw the huge mass.’
Doctors had finally discovered the source of her pain: a 15 x 15cm tumour inside her pancreas, which had already consumed half the organ.
She said it was ‘crazy’ to go on living for so long with a pancreas functioning at 50 per cent capacity.
‘I was writing letters to my loved ones, sorting out my superannuation, clearing out my laptop and spring cleaning,’ Ms Ciampa told The Sunday Tasmanian.
‘I wanted to make sure my funeral would be paid for, that it would be an easy mess to clean up. I was getting ready to be gone.’
Following her marathon surgery, the gruelling recovery process began involving extensive physiotherapy.
But Ms Ciampa miraculously overcame her battle against the odds and is preparing to take the stage at the Miss World Australia national finals on the Gold Coast in August.
Unlike other contestants, she will have a long scar that runs from her chest to her belly button.
But she says she’s ‘not afraid to show [it] – even in a two-piece bikini on stage’.
While Ms Ciampa will never be able to drink alcohol again or play sport due to a permanent clot in her spleen, the model says she’s incredibly fortunate.
‘I am so lucky to still have the head of my pancreas and due to my healthy lifestyle I may not get diabetes until I am much older,’ she said.
Ms Ciampa has raised over $2,500 toward her $5000 targe for the Variety Children’s Charity, which helps disadvantaged kids.