When I was bleeding at my worst, I used to think I was the only one that was like that. Ever since I started my periods aged 10½ they had been heavy and long and painful. I was told by a GP when I was 15 that my periods would settle down when I got married and had children. They never did, plus I never did have any children as I know now that I was probably infertile.
The bleeding got worse the older I got. I would go for weeks and then months with excessively heavy bleeding. Then stop abrupbtly for weeks and then months and then suddenly start again.
I never went to see a GP because I was always scared they would tell me that I had something serious - like cancer!!! So I put up with everything – longing for the day the menopause arrived and it would all stop.
I had no close female friends that I could talk to about it – I never really spoke to anyone about it, not even my Mom.
A post in our private FB group a few days ago reminded me of all this when one of the ladies mentioned that she used to wear incontinence pads because she used to bleed so heavily. I thought I was the only one who had to resort to using them.
Then another mentioned about always having to carry not just spare knickers when she went out but a spare pair of trousers too. Again, I thought I was the only one.
I remember we went on holiday to Spain many years ago and my suitcase was half full of super absorbent night time pads because I wasn’t sure if the ones in Spain would be good enough to hold my tsunami of blood.
Another woman joined the conversation in the FB group and said she was in a private group for women with anaemia and many of the women there were talking about having really heavy and prolonged periods and being ignored by their GP’s. She said she wanted to raise the issue of womb cancer but didn’t want to scare any of them and I think back to when I was going through all this and how scared I was about going to see a Doctor because I thought I might have cancer.
Cancer is a scary thought and many people don’t like to think about it or that it might happen to them but according to CRUK statistics, 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed by 2020. Now that is a scary thought.
Since I started WCSUK I have always believed that prevention is better than cure and that is why we try to focus on raising awareness of the symptoms and risk factors.
The main symptom of course is heavy and prolonged bleeding; bleeding between your normal periods and any post-menopausal bleeding. However, time and again we hear from women who have suffered with this, often for years because their GP has failed to take it seriously.
I have heard from women who have been told they are too young to have womb cancer; that they are over estimating the amount of blood they loose; that they are just stressed or suffering with anxiety; that what they are experiencing is normal; that they are just going through the menopause etc.
Having to change a tampon or pad every 5 minutes is not normal. Bleeding for months on end is not normal. Feeling a large clot rip away from the lining of your womb and slip down your vagina and into your knickers (and then down your leg whilst waiting for a bus as happened to me on several occasions) is not normal. Nearly dying due to severe anaemia and having to be admitted to hospital for several blood transfusions (but not being seen be a gynaecologist during the 2 weeks you were there – as happened to me) is not normal.
We need GP’s to start taking our gynae health issues seriously. Women’s lives are at risk here. So many women who come to us ended up with a late stage womb cancer diagnosis because they were no listened to and their initial symptoms were ignored.
This has to stop.
If you have been diagnosed with womb cancer then I urge you to talk to your female family and friends about it. Make sure they know about the symptoms and that they don’t ignore any of them. It might be uncomfortable for you to talk about it but I’m sure you would rather do that than have to comfort a Sister or best friend when she has just been told that she too has womb cancer
The only way to raise awareness is if we talk openly about it.