Jan from Adelaide was 58 when she was diagnosed with advanced endometrial cancer. She didn't have any recognisable symptoms, and at a regular appointment with her Asthma specialist, Jan just happened to mention that she had experienced a few odd spots of blood on her pants. The specialist reacted immediately advising Jan, she needed to see her GP most urgently.
Jan’s bleeding became much heavier as the GP sent her for tests however as she sat in the doctor’s room waiting for the results, there was no idea she would be diagnosed with endometrial cancer. In fact, like many women, Jan had never heard of endometrial cancer before being diagnosed. The tests revealed an urgent need for a radical hysterectomy and her cancer was confirmed as stage 3 having moved out of the uterus and with spots also found in her lung.
A six-week course of radiotherapy and 10 months of chemotherapy followed. She was totally drained at the end of the treatment so when told that the chemo had done its job and there was not even any sign of it in her lung, Jan and her family were so relieved. They could finally begin to rebuild their lives. However, a year later, a ‘bad migraine’ took over and Jan couldn’t tolerate any light and couldn’t stop vomiting. Led by family concern, Jan was taken to the ER to find a ‘grape-like’ tumour on her brain. As she readied for surgery, she was told that surgery had become even more urgent with the size of the tumour growing in a short space of time to be more like a golf ball.
Afterward, she endured a short intense dose of radiotherapy at the brain tumour site, to ensure that it was all contained. Jan remained positive all the way through her treatment. “I am the sort of person who wants to know what is going on. I understand there is no guarantee of time, so my family and I could only plan three months ahead to coincide with my oncology appointment.” It is after her appointment that Jan describes being able to live life to the fullest.
Jan and her husband Tony jump on their three-wheel motorised trike, or as they call it ‘Free on Three’ to escape. Their travels have taken them all the way up to Darwin, Alice Springs and even Tasmania.
Jan understands well that “it’s not until you are in it that can you understand and appreciate everything that comes with a cancer diagnosis.” She understands research can make things better for women in the future. “I have two daughters and granddaughters, so research is an investment for their future as well.”
Jan is aware that few of her friends knew what endometrial cancer was until her experience either. She wants to encourage more women to be informed about their reproductive organs. “After being told, we had to go home and google where the endometrium area was.”
We know Jan is not alone. Many women don’t realise the lining of their womb is called the endometrium and this is where endometrial cancer begins. That is also why Uterine Cancer Awareness Month held throughout June and more research is so important for all women and the future.
To support ANZGOG research program including endometrial cancer click below: