As I walked out into the sunshine and got into the patient transport ambulance for the journey back home, the tears started to roll down my cheeks. I didn't know exactly why I was crying; was it relief that it was finally all over or fear that my safety net had suddenly gone? To be honest, I think it was a bit of both and by the time I had got back onto the island, some 3 hours later, I had come round a bit and was starting to think what the future would hold for me.
Sadly 4 years on and my health is now worse than it ever was before cancer or during treatment. I am one of what would appear to be a growing number of women who have had a womb cancer diagnosis who suffer long term side effects from the treatment.
The treatment has had a severe effect on my day to day life and has impacted on my psychological and emotional well being so such an extent that I rarely go out. I have been left with chronic health conditions - underactive thyroid and lymphedema, and also cognitive and memory problems.
So, 4 years on from the end of my treatment I don't regard myself as "cancer free" - how can I when I've had no follow up appointments. I've not seen my Oncologist since the 3rd week of my radiotherapy sessions. My follow up care has been virtually non existent - and I fell very let down and alone.
And I'm not the only one. According to research carried out for Macmillan, 26% of cancer patients feel a sense of abandonment after treatment ends and 29% say they feel as if they have no one to talk to. A worryingly high figure of 62% have experienced at least 1 psychological condition as a result of cancer and its treatment, according to a survey by British Journal of Cancer.
According to a Dept. of Health survey in 2001/12 42% of gynae cancer patients were not given enough help and care from health and social care professionals once they were back home.
All these figures show the lack of ongoing support and information for all,cancer patients, not just womb cancer ones. Many patients experience difficulties that impact their day to day living, such as returning to work and the lack of information and support is making the situation worse.
It is clear that a lot more needs to be done to support cancer patients once their treatment has ended. There needs to be a range of practical structures put in place to help people; people who have gone through cancer deserve so much better than what they are currently getting. I know there are places in the UK where the follow up support is good, but until all cancer patients can get the same level of support and help then many will be left to struggle, often for years with little or no emotional or psychological support.
xx Kaz xx