From My Diagnosis To Being A Survivor
My cancer journey starts out most likely the way many cancer victims start. There is nothing comparable to people hearing the terrible phrase “You have cancer”. I was numb for weeks, it seemed so surreal.
When I was first diagnosed with uterine cancer, I purposed myself to learn about staging and treatment options. Secondly, I sought out others who had been afflicted with uterine cancer. I can honestly say I found it just as emotionally supportive to communicate with others diagnosed with different types of cancer as when communicating with women diagnosed with uterine cancer. But it is more advantageous to converse with those of a similar diagnosis to learn about treatment options, risks, and side effects. I found a cancer forum which was instrumental to me coming to grips with my diagnosis.
I was diagnosed with stage 3c Endometrial Adenocarcinoma in 2005. It is imperative to lay hold of your pathology report. I learned from my report the degree of invasion in my pelvic region; such information is critical to determining the line of treatment. I also tested positive in the para-aortic lymph node in the upper abdomen. Unfortunately at the time of my diagnosis, I was unemployed and I had no insurance. My condition was advanced therefore I automatically qualified for disability at a later date. But the lack of insurance at the time rendered my only option to be radiation. You can read my plight with this dilemma at https://fierytrial.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/my-diagnosis/
Radiation was brutally hard on me. Thirty plus rounds to the pelvis, in addition to 5 rounds to upper abdomen to address the metastasis to the para-aortic lymph node. Additionally, my radiation was delayed due to a different medical crisis. I experienced radiation treatments during Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. In January I had brachytherapy, in which an implant is inserted vaginally. This implant emits radiation to the surrounding tissues to kill off cancer cells.
Radiation gave me some negative side effects. I experienced issues years later, such as pelvic floor dysfunction, and difficulties with urination. One has to pick their poison when confronting cancer. I only had a radiation oncologist at the time of my diagnosis. When my treatments were over, my disability insurance kicked in a few months later and I was seen by a gynecological oncologist. He informed me chemotherapy would had been less damaging, but not by a significant margin. The good news is the administration of radiation treatments has made some advances in mitigating damaging effects. Also I think gynecologists are more vigilant in detection. Initially, I was misdiagnosed by my gynecologist as simply having fibroids and went almost two years ignorant of my actual condition.
Followup is important for any stage of uterine cancer. The first three years, I was seen every three months by my oncology team. After that it was every six months for two years, then I was released to be seen by a regular gynecologist yearly. Followup will likely differ according to stage, and other factors regarding a woman’s diagnosis.
I want women with uterine cancer to not give up hope! When I was first diagnosed, I assumed I was going to die. Now, basically 15 years later I have survived Stage 3 C Endometrial Adenocarcinoma. There are women who have survived 25 plus years with this beast. There are different uterine cancers, and different grades (mine was grade 2 indicating a moderate growth rate). Again, one of the key things is to educate yourself on the type of uterine cancer: stage, growth rate, cell type). Endometrial adenocarcinoma is one of the most beatable forms of uterine cancer.
As I close here, I feel all women experiencing unusual symptoms such as spotting and bleeding need to get checked out by a doctor. I was 43 when I was diagnosed and not menopausal at the time. This can happen to women at far younger ages. If you are spotting between periods or having abnormally long periods get seen by a medical professional! Anytime a woman spots or bleeds after menopause is abnormal!
Currently, I am a 15 year survivor. Remain strong ladies. Fight with all you got. Faith and my twin sister was key for me, and if you lack support from family and friends, hunt online for your support. You will find it!