A four-time cancer survivor, Mary introduces herself and shares her experience with uterine cancer.
Hi, I am Mary. I am a four-time uterine cancer survivor. The first time I was diagnosed with the uterine cancer was in 1996. I had just moved to Arizona from Los Angeles, and in August when it was 100 plus degrees and my periods got extremely heavy, and I said to a girlfriend of mine who lived in Arizona, I said, "Are your periods heavier because of the heat?" and she said no.
So, when my period came in November, it never stopped, and so I went back to my doctor in Los Angeles, and they said I had really bad fibroids and needed to have a partial hysterectomy or have the hysterectomy. And I had the surgery over Christmas vacation time, and during the surgery they found a tumor nestled in the fibroids. So, one of the things that’s to be aware of about uterine cancer is there is no test for it, and I had even had an internal ultrasound and that had not even shown the tumor.
So fortunately I had agreed to the hysterectomy and they found the tumor and, so because the surgery was done before even when they saw the tumor, they assumed it was benign, and of course the test showed that it was malignant. I did not go through any treatments, but I was immediately referred to oncologist at that point.
And about three years later, the cancer returned and by then it was a pretty significant tumor, about the size of a cantaloupe. So that was a very significant surgery, and I went through five and a half weeks of radiation after that, and then about three years later it returned again, and I have a phenomenal gynecological oncologist and he felt the tumor even before it showed up on a CAT scan. So it was only about the size of a pea this time and they were able to do vaginal surgery. So it wasn’t a big cut; it was just outpatient which was great.
But then they did brachytherapy which was radiation therapy, very targeted radiation therapy through the vagina, and then about a year and a half ago it came back again, and I again had surgery to remove it and again abdominal surgery with a hospital stay, and this time we did not do treatment. One of the things that’s a little bit unique now is there is now a chemotherapy drug that is available for this cancer. Technically it is an endometrial sarcoma, so it is a very unusual cancer for me to get. I was 40 years old the first time I had it. One in a million chance of getting it and then it turns out I’ve gotten it four times.
But we just decided that since it’s never spread, it’s always been contained, to not do chemotherapy. And, so now I am a year and a half since my last surgery, but I consider myself 12 years cancer-free or 12-year survivor.
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