My name is Bea, and I’m 41 years old. I am an endometrial cancer survivor and have been in remission for 15 months. It took over a year to determine that my diagnosis was cancer. I now work to advocate for endometrial and uterine cancer awareness.
During the summer of 2011, I was getting ready to have knee surgery on my right knee. During the wait for my knee surgery, I noticed extreme pain in my left hip. Both my primary care and my orthopedic doctors indicated that it was more than likely due to the weakness in my right leg. I went ahead an had knee surgery in July 2011. I recovered from my knee surgery very well, but my hip pain continued. I continued to talk to my primary care physician about it because there is a history of ovarian and colon cancer in my immediate family (both sisters, my father, and my maternal grandmother – all presented with hip pain). I also had heavy periods, but my doctor indicated that was more than likely due to a 130 pound weight loss that I had maintained through gastric bypass surgery.
In April 2012, my doctor finally decided he’d heard enough about my hip pain and sent me to a rheumatalogist. That doctor did a complete blood panel. He was about to give me a cortisone shot in my hip but he decided against it. He sent me for a spinal MRI instead. When the MRI came back it showed multiple cysts on my left ovary and the onset of spinal stenosis. The stenosis sent me to the physical therapist, and the cysts immediately sent me to my gyno.
My gyno although concerned from knowing my family history, was not overly concerned. He sent me for a vaginal ultrasound. By this time, it is May. I went for the ultrasound. During the ultrasound the technician indicated that I had a number of fibroids in my uterus. She could find no evidence of my ovarian cysts though. She sent me home to wait for my results. Two weeks later (early June), my gyno called and said he saw a small area of concern in my uterus but thought it may be a fibroid dying out. He asked me to schedule another ultrasound. The second ultrasound still showed the area of concern, so I was sent for a pelvic MRI. It was scheduled for the first week in August.
My husband and I went away for the forth of July holiday. On the fourth I was out at the sandbar having a great time and got an extreme pain in my right side. It went away and I didn’t think much of it. We went out to eat later that night with my sister and her husband. During the meal I felt kind of sick, so I left early to return to our beach house. The next morning, I got up, bent over the sink to wash my hair and nearly passed out. I was extremely ill for the next two days, so bad that I went to a clinic on the island. They determined I had a virus, so my husband I and left our vacation early. Two weeks later I was no better and my extremities were very swollen. My primary care doctor ran a full diagnostic but was unable to find anything wrong. He thought I may have had myocarditis, so he sent me in for an echo-cardiogram. It was scheduled the same afternoon of my pelvic MRI.
On the way home from the echo, my gynecologist called. He already had the results of my MRI from that morning. There was a lesion in my uterus. He sent me immediately to a gynecological oncologist. A biopsy showed it was pre-cancerous. I was scheduled for a radical hysterectomy on August 22nd. My oncologist said that it was a precautionary measure, and I need not worry. Surgery would be it and I’d be on my way home.
I went in on the 22nd to the University of Maryland Medical center for my hysterectomy. I was 39 years old, almost 40. I woke up from surgery to my husband crying. My husband never cries. His reaction there and then told me the truth – I had cancer.
Stage III 2c endometrial cancer – spread four mm into the lining of my uterus and through 19 of 21 lymph nodes.
I subsequently went through sandwich therapy: three cycles of chemo (paclitaxel and carboplaten), followed by 25 radiation treatments, three brachytherapy treatments, and three more cycles of chemo. It was the worst six months of my life. But I was in remission. Surgery had gotten all the cancer.
I am now, 15 months later, cancer-free. I went through genetic testing which determined I had Lynch Syndrome – a mutation in a gene that causes colon, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. As both cancers had been on both sides of my family, there is no way to tell which parent passed the gene on. I advocate for endometrial cancer awareness and genetic testing.
I fought like a girl, and continue to do so.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.