Shock diagnosis of uterine cancer – Vicki’s story
My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1999 aged 72 and died shortly afterwards as it had spread. I went to my doctor and asked if I could have some sort of screening. Despite the fact there was no other family history of any type of cancer, my doctor agreed. So, each year I went for a CA125 blood test and an ultrasound scan (internal and/or external). They found that I had a cyst on one ovary but it was a normal cyst. So every year, I went and everything seemed fine and the cyst remained normal – but had grown over the last couple of years. No-one seemed concerned and thought it would go down as I am now post-menopause (59 now).
Over the last couple of years I had a couple of bouts of cystitis which was unusual for me and had some very slight irregular spotting – light in colour but not smelly. I contacted my doctor for my blood test and scan and mentioned the discharge and he immediately referred me to the hospital for a scan and a possible hysteroscopy.
The appointment came through within the week and the following week I went to the hospital. They couldn’t see anything with the scan as it was very cloudy so I was taken straight through for the hysteroscopy. This was a very unpleasant experience but totally worth it. They found lots of blood inside the womb and a polyp and they took a sample of this and my womb lining for biopsy.
A week later I received a letter with an appointment with a Gynaecologist to discuss the results. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make an appointment for a couple of weeks but when I did get there I was told that I had uterine cancer! I was horrified and shocked. I was told it was very unusual for someone like me – very fit and healthy, slim, vegetarian, Yoga teacher, never taken the pill or HRT. It was explained to me that it was an oestrogen based cancer and slow growing and it was early stages.
During that same week I went to appointments for pre-assessment and an MRI scan. The MRI scan showed my cyst had grown even more and was sitting on my bladder and pushing backwards onto my uterus and then onto my bowel. So the following week I had a full hysterectomy removing everything including the cyst.
The cyst was normal and the uterine cancer was Stage 1b. I decided against the brachytherapy that was offered a few weeks later.
I recovered very quickly from the operation although very sick at first from the anaesthetic and/or morphine. I did Yoga every day even when I could only lie in bed most of the time and continued doing simple yoga in bed and slowly built this up as my strength came back. I walked every day after the first 2 bedridden days. I started teaching Yoga again after 4 weeks (only 1 class a week). I slowly built up my strength and felt pretty normal by 5/6 weeks – just tender around the scar (straight down from the navel).
It is now 12 weeks and I am teaching Yoga normally, practising it normally, going to the gym to do Zumba, Body Balance and Pilates. I am regularly going on long walks between 5-8 miles. It’s like a dim and distant memory but I am reminded by the scar of course which is still slightly tender when I touch it.
I will be receiving follow up appointments regularly to check on recovery and any possible recurrence anywhere else in the body. There is a possibility that my mother may have had uterine cancer and it has spread to her ovaries although there are no genetic markers for uterine cancer.
At the moment, I feel very positive but know I will be in safe hands if anything does happen. I can’t praise the NHS enough for being so quick of the mark.