Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month: Laura's Story
Publish Date: 13/08/2013
Laura's Story: Surviving Womb Cancer
“In 2010 I was in my late thirties and looking forward to a big change in my life – my partner Paula and I had decided we wanted to have a child. I was planning to carry the baby so we approached a fertility clinic to have artificial insemination.
As part of the preparation for me trying to get pregnant the clinic insisted on various checks, including a Hysterosalpinogram (HSG) Scan, which examines the womb and fallopian tubes for any abnormalities. The scan came back showing that there was what appeared to be a polyp in my womb which I’d need to have removed - this was confirmed by an internal ultrasound scan.
To be honest, I was quite relieved that they’d found something. For years I’d had really heavy periods and I’d also started to have bleeding mid-cycle. I'd seen my GP regarding my periods who referred me to a gynaecologist. I had an ultrasound scan which was reported as normal at the time and my gynaecologist had told me I was unlucky to have heavy bleeding. So when they told me I had a polyp I thought at last I had an explanation. Of course, I didn’t realise then that it would turn out to be malignant.
Because I was trying to get pregnant I paid to have the polyp removed privately. When the tests showed it was cancerous it was a big shock. I was very quickly referred on to an NHS oncologist and I went from preparing to get pregnant to having a hysterectomy.
My oncologist tried to be positive and explained that as my partner is a woman she could carry a child, I could still be a Mum and be free of cancer. It was still very emotional for me to have the hysterectomy though, as I had really wanted to get pregnant.
Following the hysterectomy I had a nervous wait for the histology report to come back but when it did it was good news – the cancer hadn’t spread and I didn’t need further treatment. I had regular talks with a Macmillan nurse who advised me of possible symptoms if the cancer returned. As I’m a nurse myself, I was fairly confident that I’d be able to spot these symptoms.
Once I’d been given the all clear, Paula and I decided to try again to become parents, but this time with Paula trying to get pregnant. Luckily everything went a lot more smoothly and Paula gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Erin, in January last year.
It was difficult when Paula was pregnant. I was worried that I wouldn’t feel connected to our daughter, or that she wouldn’t bond with me. Luckily I have a really supportive partner – she has been amazing the whole way through. And I really shouldn’t have worried – I adore our daughter and don’t think I could care more deeply about her if I’d given birth to her myself.
If there are any other women out there who have symptoms such as heavy periods, bleeding between periods or anything else that just doesn’t seem quite right I would say don’t hesitate to go to your GP. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer at first, keep pushing until you do get one. There are many reasons for these symptoms but it’s best to get it checked out.”
Laura shared her story with us through The Eve Appeal, which campaigns to raise awareness of Womb Cancer and other gynaecological cancer. Womb cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK and is on the increase each year due to changes in our lifestyles. Over 7,500 women are diagnosed every year in the UK. Womb cancer is more common in women aged over fifty. Key symptoms are bleeding after the menopause or bleeding between periods so if you experience either of these you should seek medical advice.
To find out more about The Eve Appeal and about gynaecological cancer visit www.eveappeal.org.uk.