"The saying goes that hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can vouch for that. When I look back, the signs that something was going on were all there.
For years I had had trouble with my periods and at one point, around 9 years ago, the bleeding was so bad that I was severely anaemic. I was found to have endometriosis and fibroids and was prescribed a mirena coil. This was fantastic at first. It lightened my periods and shrank the fibroids.
Then, after about 4 years, things started to get progressively worse. I had scan after scan but nothing was found. As I was 50, the specialists decided that I was approaching menopause and explained that sometimes things can get worse before periods stop. A couple of months after that, my periods did stop suddenly. I was getting hot flushes but nothing too bad and I was also getting slight bleeding every now and again. I joked to my close friends about my ’20 minute periods’ but was a bit annoyed that it was happening. I was so looking forward to menopause after all the problems I had had!
I enjoyed my hobby, running, immensely and in 2011 I had a very good year. I ran 5 marathons the last of them on October 2nd. That was Loch Ness marathon which is my favourite. The scenery is just beautiful although the marathon is a little demanding in places with the hills. This was the fifth time I had done this race and for some reason I found it exceptionally hard. I can remember feeling absolutely shattered and getting a little despondent in the latter stages. I finished the race and more or less crawled back to the hostel where I was staying, devouring a burger and chips and then just going to my bed for a few hours to sleep. Usually, I am full of life and raring to go out to celebrate!
A few days after returning home, I started to feel rough, almost flu-like and decided that I must have a virus which was why I had found the marathon so hard. That would explain my exhaustion! I recovered although I still didn’t feel one hundred percent but then again viruses can take a bit of time to get out of the system.
All through 2011, I was getting spotting and after Loch Ness marathon, the spotting got progressively worse. I tutted a few times to myself wondering just when this would stop. Then I started to bleed a little heavier. And then a lot heavier. I made an appointment with my GP who referred me for an urgent scan to see what was going all. All the radiographer would say to me was that the lining of my womb was very thick and it would have to be investigated. Then the next day I started to flood. It was horrendous. It was as though someone had turned on a tap. I was put on hormones to stop the bleeding, which they did, but, once the course had finished, it all started again. I was feeling really rough by this time and was starting to worry about what was going on.
The report from the hospital revealed that I had a growth within my womb and just before Christmas I had a hysteroscopy. The consultant said that I had a fibroid and took a biopsy just to be on the safe side. I pleaded with him for a hysterectomy but he said that hospitals aren’t keen on doing them just for the sake of it. He said I would probably come into hospital for the fibroid to be removed under general anaesthetic and then have another mirena coil put in place. I wasn’t very happy with that and over Christmas and the new year I started to put together a list of the reasons why I should have a hysterectomy in preparation for a big argument when I went for my results!
I went back to the hospital on 4th January this year to get my results. It was cancer. The breakthrough bleeding I had been having for over a year was the tumour starting to make its presence felt and I had ignored it!
I did have it at the back of my mind that this could be diagnosis as things were so bad and I felt so ill. I hadn’t worked since the beginning of December and spent most of my time asleep. I almost missed Christmas and the new year and, to be honest, can’t remember much about the festive season.
Things moved very quickly after that. I had a full hysterectomy on January 27th. This showed that, while the cancer hadn’t spread anywhere within my pelvic area, the tumour itself was grade 3 and I would benefit from radiotherapy. I finished that on May 1st and am now back, more or less, to a normal life. I have finally started to run again and have my first marathon on Good Friday next year. I sometimes get a little tired but I just listen to my body now and go to bed early if I need.
Hindsight is wonderful. But I was unlucky in that my symptoms coincided with my menopause and most of my friends said they would have thought the same as I; that my body was still going through menopause. But this just shows how we women need to have anything, absolutely anything, checked out. And we need to be persistent with our doctors. I don’t know if my GP would have looked into my breakthrough bleeding as I didn’t say anything to her. But I am so thankful that she acted upon it straight away when I did go to see her.
And how do I feel now? I feel like I must be the luckiest woman alive!