"I remember very clearly been diagnosed with endometrial [womb ] cancer which was 2 days before Christmas. I had first been to see my GP 9 months earlier with bleeding between periods; I was not concerned as I had a history with polyps which was what the GP found. I was referred to hospital to see the gynaecologist. In June I had cervical polyps removed in outpatients and with relief I thought that was the end of the matter. I then continued to have bleeding between periods and delayed going back to the GP hoping the symptoms would go away or that the symptoms were related to my age being 43 years of age and hitting the menopause. Never did I think I had womb cancer. In August I decided I needed to go back to my GP, she referred back to the gynaecologists and the GP also arranged an ultrasound. The doctor at the hospital wondered why I had been referred back. Luckily she spoke to the consultant and made arrangements for me to come in to have a hysteroscopy under a general anaesthetic.The first mention of cancer was after the hysteroscopy when the consultant came to me. She had found a polyp in the womb which she suggested could be nasty but highly unlikely to be cancer due to my age; she arranged to see me back in clinic 8 weeks. I was left on my own very upset and confused. Why if it could be cancer was I waiting 8 weeks for the results? I remain very anxious. A couple of weeks later I spoke to one of the consultants I worked for who very kindly speeded up the process to get results, as I wanted to know my histology results were ok before Christmas!!
December 22nd I arrived home after a busy day at work and was just about to go out on a Christmas do. There was a message on my answer machine from the consultant to contact her secretary. I knew then something was not right as consultants don’t usually leave messages on answer machines to contact with them urgently. As it was late I could not get hold of anyone. Burst into tears as I realised my life was about to completely change and was very frightened. Decided still to go out on Christmas do to try cheer myself up but only told 2 friends what was happening. Still managed to go to work the next day. I was trying to be run a busy clinic and spent half the morning trying to contact the hospital to speak to the consultant and specialist nurse. I did not want to tell colleagues what was happening at this stage.A friend came with me to the hospital in the afternoon and I was given the results by the specialist nurse and the consultant came in later. I knew then it was womb cancer and that I needed a hysterectomy before they told me. The consultant said I was not going to die but the word cancer felt like a death sentence. Working in a cancer hospital for several years made me very scared of what could happen. I was told it was aggressive as a grade 3 tumour. I was also told if you are going to get a cancer then womb cancer was the better one to have as had good cure rate; this left very confused. I was also shocked that I would have a surgical menopause. Children were now out of the question. After been diagnosed I decided to be up front with my colleagues as I did not want mix messages and incorrect rumours.
The hardest part was telling my family, this was not the Christmas we wanted. Never forget walking into my Mum’s living room and breaking the bad news. The family were very supportive. The following week I tried to go back to work, got as far as putting on my uniform and realised that it was impossible to back to working in clinics when I was now a patient myself so the uniform went back in the wardrobe and I went off sick.
One my most vivid memories were going for my first appointment to see the gynaecologist oncologist. My appointment card had my name and oncology clinic written on it. I was so use to dealing with other cancer patient’s appointment cards so this was very surreal; the tables had been completely turned on me.I found it very hard to keep focused on what the consultant was saying did I want my lymph glands removing? Did I want a laparoscopic or an abdominal incision? Luckily I took a friend to be second pair of ears as I was completely overwhelmed.
I had the surgery on the 3rd January 2006. I recovered very well but was surprised the hot flushes started as soon as I got back from theatre. I decided I wanted to remain positive: hardest part was waiting for the final results after the operation to see if I needed further treatment. The consultant gave me the great news that it was stage 1A. I rang my family and then called into work and told everyone the good news. I was over the moon.
I remained on a high for several weeks but reality began to hit me - especially when I went back to work 4 months later. I started feeling very isolated and anxious; it was hard for some friends and colleagues to understand what I was going through. There was no support group for womb cancer. I wanted to meet other ladies with womb cancer similar to my age. In the September after the diagnosis, I hit meltdown. I got to the point when I needed to make changes to my life or risk going off work with stress. I cut my work hours down, dropped some of work responsibilities; this meant a pay cut but was worth it. I joined a gynaecology support group in Liverpool. I was referred for counselling. Life slowly started to improve. Hospital appointments: These were very hard at the beginning but became easier. I took the day off work and went for a nice treat afterwards shopping; coffee and cake!The first Christmas after diagnosis was also difficult it was like going through the whole process all over again and I think it can take years to get over the diagnosis. For each anniversary I got a bottle of champagne to celebrate with my friends. I have finally been discharged this year after 5 years and it nice to know now I do not have to worry about the cancer coming back. I appreciate life much more and try not to take things for granted. I did fundraising for the hospital that treated me with a Hafla- a belly dance party. I now hope to continue fundraising for my local hospital that treated me. I joined a womb cancer support group on face book so I can now help other women like myself. We are group of women who want to raise the awareness of womb cancer to save more lives and support each other.
No woman should fight alone."