"I write fiction for a hobby, and it’s always said a proper story should have a beginning, a middle and an end.
My womb cancer story began in February 2010, just before my 58th birthday, when I had a very minor post-menopausal vaginal bleed. Being an eternal pessimist my first reaction was ‘oh no, I must have something seriously wrong’. I immediately booked an appointment with my GP and was seen very quickly, within a couple of weeks I think. All through the waiting time my mind raced back and forth between ‘it might be just an infection’ and ‘what if it’s something serious?’ I never actually used the term ‘cancer’, feeling almost as if it was a dirty word. Well, it wasn’t an infection so I was referred to the gynae department of the local hospital. Again the appointment came quite quickly and I was still quietly hoping for a happy ending, even though my mind told me there was no such thing.My first gynae visit was nearly my last! The doctor was unpleasant, almost brutal in her examination and the nurse wasn’t any better. Anyway, I left the clinic with as much information as I had when I went in—zilch! Except now I knew I’d have to be admitted as a day patient for a hysteroscopy, which, as it turned out after I was anaesthetised, couldn’t be performed. The gynae surgeon drew a little diagram of a closed cervix, told me that was what mine looked like and said she’d keep an eye on me and I might need an MRI scan. ‘See you in six weeks’. Goodbye.This is the point where, had I been on the ball, I’d have started asking questions and pushing a bit, but being a naive old thing I put my trust in the medics and told myself things can’t be that bad because no-one seems to be too worried. I’d had an ultrasound scan sometime along the way but my memory is a little fuzzy these days so I can’t remember at exactly what stage in the proceedings that took place. I do remember being told there was ‘some thickening’. My lovely friends kept reassuring me that it was probably just fibroids or something of that sort, I’d probably end up having a hysterectomy and wouldn’t I feel wonderful afterwards!A couple of months rolled by and my minor bleed turned into a permanent stringy discharge, rather like egg white. Still no word from the hospital and by now I was starting to worry again so I thought it might be an idea to chase them up, which I did. Yes, they said, there is a bit of a delay with appointments but it shouldn’t be too much longer. I did eventually get my MRI scan, then another long wait until finally …yessss! I got to see the gynae consultant for my results. Which, despite my previous pessimism, came as a terrible shock. I remember her words still. ‘I think we should do a hysterectomy…it could be cancer.’ The bottom dropped out of my world at that precise moment. My husband was waiting outside for me. I couldn’t tell him till we got to the car park, then I repeated what the doc had said and promptly burst into tears.There have been a lot of tears since that day.Then my surgeon popped off on holidays and left another doctor to break the news a couple of weeks later that yes, it was cancer, and I’d need radiotherapy. My brother lives close to the hospital that I went to for the RT—an hour each way for me. When he heard the news he invited me to go and stay with him so I wouldn’t have to travel. I remember being quite indignant at the suggestion and told him ‘I’m not going to put my life on hold for this thing.’ I didn’t either. I was lucky enough not to suffer any real side-effects so life went on almost as normal, although, looking back I know I was more short-tempered than usual. And tearful, always tearful.I was introduced to a wonderful oncologist who suggested that I should have chemotherapy as well. The mere thought of chemo terrified me and after much discussion with my husband I decided not to take that option. I’ll never know whether or not it was the right decision because I had a recurrence in April 2011, which may or may not have happened if I’d taken the chemo route—who knows? This time I was seen to by a wonderful team of doctors and nurses. I had a urostomy in June 2011 and got so bored in hospital I walked the corridors day and night until I was discharged, after which I carried on walking and exercising until I was properly fit! We knew chemo was the better option this time and as it turned out my terror was unfounded. Again I was quite fortunate to not suffer too many side-effects, although I did find myself getting quite tired most afternoons. And although I tried not to let fatigue get the better of me I realised in the end that I’m not superhuman, I’m the same as everyone else and sometimes I just had to give in to it. I think my odd sense of humour and determination not to let this cancer beat me has helped me through, along with the massive support I’ve had from friends and family—and of course WCSUK. My emotions have taken a battering and I still sometimes find myself crying for nothing in particular. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and although I saw my GP as soon as the first symptom showed, I know now I should have pushed to get the original gynae team off their bums!I think my womb cancer experience has made me more outspoken, more confident in some ways and I’m no longer afraid to utter the word cancer. It’s as much a part of me as is my plastic urostomy pouch!The end of my womb cancer story hasn’t been written yet.
For now, I’m a womb cancer survivor."