Ariarne Titmus has revealed she went public with her tumour scare because she was concerned someone else — perhaps even a nurse — might leak the information.
The Australian swimming champion has returned to competition for the first time since July ahead of the Paris Olympics, finishing second to Mollie O’Callaghan in Sunday night’s final of the 200m freestyle at the Queensland championships.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Ariarne Titmus makes successful return to the pool after tumour scare.
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The women’s 400m freestyle world-record holder broke the news in September she had benign tumours removed from an ovary.
Titmus revealed on Sunday that she was in her surgical gown at the hospital when people asked her for photos – something she found “quite confronting”.
She spoke of “freaking out” in her mind ahead of the abdominal operation.
Titmus first revealed the news while recovering. Credit: Instagram
“A few nurses were asking for photos at the hospital,” Titmus said.
“I’d rather just put it out there and use it as an opportunity to create the conversation for people who might be going through the same thing.
“You never think when you go into hospital for an operation, and you’re in your surgical gown, that people are going to ask you for a photo. That’s what pushed me to say something, because I wanted to speak to it on my terms and not have it come out through someone else.”
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Titmus said the health scare had given her perspective and she was keen to spread the message about women’s health.
“It’s so normal for women to go through this. I’ve had so many women message me and say ‘I had the same thing, I lost my ovary and I still had babies’,” she said.
The tumours were picked up by chance, when Titmus had an MRI scan on a sore hip.
“Timing is everything and I believe everything happens for a reason,” she said.
“I’m so grateful we picked it up when we did. It was almost the perfect time to get it out.
“If I’d had the scan in February or March, it would have completely derailed my Olympics.”
But Titmus said there was no time to waste as she prepared for Paris.
“I’m really playing catch-up at the moment, trying to put in as much work as I can, so I’m pretty buggered racing here,” she said.
“I know I’m on my way back and I can’t read too much into my swims here.
“I definitely have time, but I don’t have time to waste. I probably think I’m actually in a better position now than I thought I would be.”
Titmus is back swimming at the state championships. Credit: AAP
O’Callaghan won the final in one minutes 54.36 seconds, short of the 1:52.85 world record she set in July at the world championships.
Titmus was second in 1:55.99 and Kaylee McKeown took third in 1:56.14..
“I had no clue where I’d be. I’m pretty happy with that and it’s just fun to get the suit back on, get a week away from training,” Titmus said.
“It’s nice to get the juices flowing again.”
O’Callaghan overcame physical tiredness to win the 200m title, saying she had struggled after the morning’s heat swim.
“Sometimes you just have to tough it out, suck it up and keep going,” she said.