'You are so lucky' and 'oh my god, how lucky are you?'. These are the most common statements I have heard since November 2013. They are the 2 statements that make me question who I am and make me question myself most often. You see I was 35, childless and desperate to be a mummy, to carry children within my womb and to push my own child out through my body, with the aid of my cervix and anything else connected to my lady bits. But Mother Nature had other ideas. She decided that it was not for me.
I had loads of really good friends and colleagues. I was always out and about and spent time with people who I had known for years and loved with all my heart, and they felt the same way. My life was filled with the greatest people I could ever have and I came from a big family. Three older brothers, 2 older sisters and 16 nieces and nephews. Then Eric decided to show up and I realised who really was a good friend and who would be there for me, and it was not what I expected. I have forged some amazing friendships since, with people I never even knew.
My husband, my mum, one of my sisters, my 18 year old niece, my 10 year old niece and my now best friends Tracey and Debby. These seven people got me through the toughest time in my life so far and I will forever be in their debt. I can never repay them for the support they have shown me. They never once told me to 'kick cancers ass' or 'we'll do this together' or even 'we are in this together', no, not a single one of them. In fact it was during a conversation with Debby that we decided to call my cancer Eric. They watched trashy TV, made me laugh, held my hand when I cried and were, well, just there.
I had always had heavy and irregular periods because I had PCOS. Me and my husband had gone through years of being disappointed of me being unable to conceive and endless hospital appointments where I was told I was too fat to be able to do it but no-one helping me lose weight. Just telling me it was going to be so hard to lose weight because of PCOS. I could have screamed! Anyway, after years of heartbreak every month, we decided to ease off stressing about it as everyone was telling us we 'would be next' and 'we have friends who tried for years for children then when they were on holiday they conceived'. So we had chosen to try and live beyond pregnancy tests and hospital visits.
So my job was going well, new nieces and nephews were being born and life was pretty good, except I still had no children. Then on 1st April 2012 I had what I can only describe as a sore, erm... ehh... back passage. I ended up in hospital for a week on drips and having surgery for an anal fistula, one of the sorest things ever.
This was the start of my period of ill health. For the following 12 months or so I was in and out of hospital having surgery to 'fix' things. I was very fortunate that I had private health care to cover this. My colorectal consultant was great and really looked after me. He sent me for an MRI scan in June 2013 to make sure that my most recent surgery was going to plan. He called me a week or so later to let me know that he had seen a 'thickening' in my uterus and should go see someone about it. He added that it may be due to my issues with PCOS. I had no symptoms, I had not had a period for over a year and no pain or anything.
I then visited one of the female GP's at my local practice. She said she would refer me to a Gynaecologist. By August I had not heard anything so decided to call my GP practice to enquire, only to find out that the referral had not been made. In the following days I received an appointment for my local NHS hospital for October 2013 and went along on the day. I was met by a lovely male gynaecologist. I was mortified!! A man looking at my bits??? but I went ahead and explained I was nervous, He really put me at ease. He did an ultra sound scan then an internal scan. He commented that I had polyps in my uterus and he would like to have me back in a couple of weeks for further tests. I can honestly say that other than being uncomfortable about another male 'seeing my bits', I had no hesitation.
I returned to the hospital and he set about trying to remove whatever he could. He also mentioned that he would take a scraping and send off for a biopsy and see what that said, but assured me that I’ was too young for anything like that’. He then arranged for me to return in another 2 weeks to discuss the results and the way forward. I did not give it a second thought.
A few days later I had met my hubby for lunch. Sitting enjoying our catch up I received a call from the hospital asking if could attend an appointment in the following days. I do not remember much after this as my body must have gone into shock. Next memory I have is of me and hubby sitting in my GP practice on that Tuesday afternoon and some new doctor telling me 'you have womb cancer. I know this is a lot to take in'. I couldn't tell you another word he spoke. I guess I was lucky that my previous MRI scan had 'found it'. I left the practice and called my sister and told her she had to tell my mum.
My wee mammy, she was heartbroken, but amazing. She is amazing. My dad passed away in 1999 and my wee mammy held us all together. I am so proud of her. How could I tell her I had cancer? Womb cancer in fact! I couldn't give her grandchildren. I couldn't add to the family. She would never see me become a mummy myself. But of course she didn't care about that, she just wanted to hold me and let me cry.
So the following days were filled with appointments and people talking at us, but to be honest the only part I heard was a hysterectomy and removal of ovaries etc. My only wish was to be a mummy and stupid Eric had moved in and destroyed any hope of this. I hate Eric, Eric is a dick!
I met with a Gynaecologist and my surgery was set for 26th November. Surgery went as planned and I left hospital on 29th November and back to my wee mammy's house to recuperate. I got a call on 10th December to advise that all of the cancer had been removed and it had not spread. What a relief! It had been 28 days start to finish, from the day I found out I had cancer to the day I was told it had not spread. And I would not need any treatment.
What a result, eh? How lucky am I? Oh and Eric had been evicted and taken all of his stuff with him when he left. It was fantastic news. But why did I not feel ‘lucky’? Why was I terrified beyond belief? How do they know it’s not spread? What if they got it wrong? This was only a selection of the many questions that ran through my mind.
For the next 18 months my life looked like it was ‘back to normal’. I returned to work, was happy and smiling, going out and about, adjusting to life knowing I would not be a mummy.
One day in September 2014 I was speaking to my GP about medication, the ‘new’ GP that had told me that Eric had moved in, and he happend to ask me how I was feeling. I couldn’t speak. Then ‘CRASH’, my world caved in on me. I had a mental breakdown. I was admitted to the priory hospital for psychiatric support and days, weeks and months went by in a blur
In fact about a year went by, I had sold my house and bought one near my family, had resigned from my job and put about 3 stone in weight on. During this time I was still attending the priory and had been assigned a Person Centred Therapist, Colin.
He helped me understand how my life trauma’s had caught up with me and gave me coping techniques. This was not Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, this went deeper. With his and my GP’s help and support, and a lot of medication, I started to see that life was worth living and that I did have a lot of things to live for and enjoy.
I still attend appointments with Colin and think I may always. Eric took away my dream of becoming a mummy, producing off spring, bearing a child that would call my amazing husband daddy, a grandchild for the parents, but I am fucked if Eric is going to take away my life. I am going through the menopause and have had endless discussions about hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, but nothing prepared me for the weight gain, yes, more weight gain. But I was alive!
I still struggle with things but I can cope. Life is not all about babies and taking things for granted, it is about being the best that I can be. The best wife, mother, sister, auntie and friend. Being the best mummy to my new puppy and sharing experiences and raising awareness of this god awful disease that no-one seems to know about. I know I had never heard of womb cancer before I had it, Ovarian and Cervical yes.
I am unrecognisable to the person I was in October 2013, I no longer wish to go back to the person I used to be or to get my old life back. There are elements I miss but I am adjusting to a new me. The biggest lesson I have learned is that when the chips are down, you do really find out who your friends are.
I would encourage everyone to write about their experiences and tell us how you are, but only when it is right for you. I have cried happy and sad tears writing this. But it is one of thee best things I have ever done.
I realise that I have found out who I can rely on but most of all, I have learned that I cannot change people or things, no matter how hard I try, but I can change how I deal with people or things."
If you are willing to share your story then please get in touch using the contact form on the website.
xx Kaz xx