In 2018, Kel noticed some changes to her usual menstrual cycle, with excessive bleeding outside her usual cycle.
Instinctively, Kel knew that something was not quite right and was quick to seek medical advice.
“My GP prescribed medication to stem the bleeding, which I took for about 3 months without success.” recalls Kel “I was so frustrated. The medication was not helping, plus the cost of the it was starting to mount up. My GP didn’t seem to have a good knowledge of women’s health issues, so I asked my GP to refer me to a specialist.”
A Rockhampton local, Kel was referred to the gynaecological specialist at her local hospital, where she undertook a multiple tests and treatments including a pap-smear (now known as cervical screen), marina insertion, biopsy and a dilation and curettage (D&C).
“I was told I would get the results in 2 weeks, however I was called back earlier. Only 3 days after my tests I was told I had stage 1B endometrial (uterine) cancer.”
Hearing her diagnosis left Kel feeling numb. Putting their lives in Rockhampton temporarily ‘on hold’, Kel and her parents travelled to Brisbane to receive specialist treatment.
“It was an anxious time” Kel recalls “I had no idea of when I was going to be operated on, but luckily there was a cancellation on the hospitals operating list and I was admitted quickly.”
“I had my hysterectomy on 31 October 2018 – happy Halloween! And because I was recovering well, I was able to leave the hospital earlier than expected, but we still had to stay in Brisbane a few more days before I could return home.”
Starting In February 2019, Kel then undertook radiation therapy for 6 weeks “I am happy to say, was successful” she said. “For the following 3 years, I had 6 monthly check-ups, and I am now currently having yearly check-ups, until hopefully November 2023.”
This year, is it expected that 6,800 women and people with reproductive organs will be diagnosed with one of the seven gynaecological cancers, including uterine (endometrial) cancer. That’s 19 women every day.
Kel works as a nursing assistant at Birribi Disability Unit. “Kel has a great affinity for our residents” explains the unit’s ANUM, Selina Bambrick “I believe this comes from her home life, as she has a sister with cerebral palsy, whom she helps her parents care for. She is a vivacious woman who wears a smile and is happy to help wherever she can.”
ANZGOG’s gynaecological cancer research is vital for women like Kel, enabling them to live longer, better lives.
Eager to support Kel, as well as raise funds for ANZGOGs research, her colleagues at Birribi Disability Unit will be hosting a fundraising day this September.
Before receiving her diagnosis, the only gynaecological cancer Kel was aware of was cervical cancer. Usually a private person, Kel knows the importance of telling her story to help raise awareness of this disease of uterine cancer with other women.
By being proactive, knowing her body and advocating for her own health, Kel was fortunate to receive an early cancer diagnosis.
“I recommend that each and every woman keeps up with their regular pap-smears (cervical screen) and health checks’ advises Kel “But not just pap-smears which only identifies cervical cancer – speak to your GP as soon as you notice any abnormalities or changes with your regular menses.”
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!”
You can support ANZGOG’s research to help women like Kel. Click here to find out how!
Note: In 2017, pap-smear tests were replaced by the Australian Government to more specific cervical (HPV) screening which is recommended for women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 74 every five years.