Janine McCann, from Killinchy, talks about her experience of endometrial cancer.
In May 2003 I went to my GP for a routine smear test and mentioned I was having spotting between periods. I thought it was probably the menopause as I was 53 at the time. My GP referred me on, but I wasn’t concerned at the symptoms and I otherwise felt good.
I was later diagnosed with endometrial cancer (cancer of the womb). I had a hysterectomy followed by radiotherapy, and in May 2004 had brachytherapy - a type of internal radiotherapy.
I am now retired but live a full life and without the treatment would not be here to enjoy my grandchildren.
The cancer is now behind me and was only an interruption in my life. I was very fit and well at the time and physically recovered from the surgery quickly. Unfortunately as a result of the radiotherapy, I developed chronic radiation enteritis, which is damage to the lining of the bowel due to the radiation. However, I know the treatment was a necessary evil to ensure my recovery.
I am now retired but live a full life and without the treatment would not be here to enjoy my grandchildren, see the flowers and herbs reappear each year, sail on the Atlantic and Mediterranean. I am fortunate to have an understanding husband and close family. I feel needed and loved which is a joy at any age or situation. I do have my ‘not so good days’ still, but I know they will pass and I take them as an excuse to indulge in reading or TV – not to mention some chocolate!
I would advise anyone who experiences something that is not normal for them to go to your GP and don’t put it off. I have since learnt that if you have been through the menopause, any vaginal bleeding is considered to be abnormal; if you have not yet been through the menopause, unusual bleeding may include bleeding between your periods. Either way you should see you GP as soon as possible; while it is unlikely that it is caused by womb cancer, it is best to be sure.
My cancer had jumped a grade from diagnosis to surgery, so if I had not bothered to go I may not have had such a positive outcome. Only a tiny percentage of patients get complications from treatment and even with these, you still have a life.