Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sixth Anniversary

March 2004 - March 2010

Today I bought myself a little gift, which I do every March in celebration of my continued being. This is the anniversary week of my endometrial cancer diagnosis.  I am now six years cancer free.  Yeah!!!

It was early March 2004 when I had a hysterectomy, 2 weeks after an endometrial biopsy showed endometrial hyperplasia, probable endometrial cancer.  I had a total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy (TAH BSO) which means removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.  The pathological staging came back as Stage IC, grade 2 endometrial cancer and the surgeon's staging was Stage IIB, grade 2 probable cancer of the uterine corpus [deeper than the endometrial layer]- the treatment was the same, so not sure if the staging really mattered.  The cancer had spread since the biopsy into the cervix area which is why the surgeon staged it as IIB, but the path report said it was just an external spread from the biopsy path.  I prefer the IC designation since the probability of a cure is quite a bit higher than IIB.

The surgeon said the cancer was about the size of a football, and was pushing downward on my bladder.  I had had symptoms for quite a while, but two years earlier had seen a gynecologist who told me I was just perimenopausal and didn't even need to have a checkup for a couple of years.  He was a real winner, not practicing anymore thank heavens!  I knew something was wrong, but kept telling myself  "It's just perimenopause!"  Sometimes you just need to listen to your inner voice.  I guess I just wanted a large blue ribbon size cancer! 

The radiation therapy was to ensure no recurrance, and it seems to have worked for that, no matter what other problems I have.  My radiation oncologist sent me an article this week on "lumbosacral plexopathy from radiation therapy" - maybe he has been thinking about my problems since the radiation dosing issues have come forward.  Lumbosacral plexopathy as described in the article is a rare side effect from high dose rate brachytherapy, where the nerve nexus in the pelvic region receives too much radiation for whatever reason and is damaged.  For some it means that eventually they lose the ability to walk.  My ability to walk long distances and to stand are limited now, sorta hoping it would stop at this point and not get any worse.  This is the first time I have gotten some honesty about what is happening from this practice.

Endometrial cancer is one of the most common women's cancers in the world, and is very curable if caught in the early stages.  Here is a list of some of the risk factors (I had quite a few):
• Diabetes
• Estrogen replacement therapy without the use of progesterone
• History of endometrial polyps or other benign growths of the uterine lining
• Infertility (inability to become pregnant)
• Tamoxifen, a drug for breast cancer treatment
• Never being pregnant
• Obesity
• Starting menstruation at an early age (before age 12)
• Starting menopause after age 50
• Colon or breast cancer
• Hypertension
• Polycystic ovarian disease
• Family history of endometrial cancer
If you have any of these risk factors, and have abnormal menstrual bleeding and/or a clear mucousy discharge, please schedule a doctor appointment with a competent gynecologist soon.  There are no real screening tests like the Pap smear for cervical cancer.  Every Pap test I have had came back normal, but the endometrial biopsy and vaginal ultrasound were the diagnostic tools that helped determine I had cancer. I had several years of problems that if my physicians had been more diligent (the cancer showed up on a ultrasound from 2001 but I was told it was a fibroid tumor) or if I had been more proactive might have been the warning signs that something needed to be done.

The Headache is very active this evening, with pain spikes driving through my temple.  I have had the stimulator turned down today, as the head was getting over stimulated so I guess I am just paying the price now.


  1. Congrats on your cancer-free anniversary!!! Yay!!!!!

  2. Four more years and I'm considered cured. WooHoo!!!!

  3. Thanks Heather. It's the kind of anniversary you hope no one has to celebrate, but a victory of sorts for me!!!