Tag Archives: Endometrial Cancer

My Cancer Story: Oncology Check

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As an endometrial cancer survivor, I visit the oncologist once a year and six months later, the gynecologist. Although I wouldn’t dare skip one of these appointments, I do feel some apprehension before and during each check up.

I’m happy to step into UNC Hospital again though. The doctors and staff saved my life, and I’m grateful beyond measure. The hospital is nicely designed and decorated, and the food is good. My memories are joyful ones, especially the moment when I got the first pathology report.

Before my latest appointment a few weeks ago, I studied the brush strokes on this painting in the waiting room. Now that I’m taking an art class, I keep my eyes open for art education opportunities.

On to the check up.

The news was excellent: No sign of recurrence. I asked my doctor a round of questions because I like to get my money’s worth. (A visit to UNC Hospital is not cheap.) Then Cliff and I went for a celebratory lunch.

Since my news is happy news, let’s move to a more carefree topic. When you go to the doctor, and the nurse tells you to undress, do you climb on the table once you have on the drape or robe? Or do you wait in the chair?

In my younger days, I felt duty bound to climb on the table.  But that old table can be hard on the back while you wait. And wait. And wait.

So now I don’t get on the table until the doctor comes into the room.  I snapped this selfie to show you. (I’m glad the doc didn’t catch me taking it. None of my doctors has expressed any interest in my menopause blog. Why not? Who knows? A question for another day…)

Back to the question at hand. Table or chair?

Do tell!

To read more about endometrial cancer and my experience, check out the link at the top of the page or click here.  Endometrial cancer has a high cure rate, if caught early, and is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system. 

My Cancer Story: Two Years

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Barbara Before Surgery

It’s been two years this summer since my surgery for endometrial cancer. I look happy in this pre-surgery picture, and in many ways, I was. What I call “Cancer Courage” had set in. And I felt quite loved by Cliff  and my friends and my church that day and well taken care of by the medical world

After the surgery, I was happier still. The pathology news was great–early stage cancer and no further treatments.

But as happy as I was then and am now, cancer changes you. You cross a line. The line for me is that I now live in fear of recurrence. The stats say this cancer should not return, but I’m on daily alert for blood, the sign it’s back. The blood worry has gotten better, which my oncologist said it would, but it lives with me always.

If you know a cancer survivor, treat your friend to a movie or an ice cream cone or a glass of wine.I can promise you that unless he or she is an off-the-charts optimist, your friend worries too. I now understand what a cancer check means. I go every six months and hold my breath until the doctor says, “Looks good.” Then I treat myself to an ice cream cone.

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I’m now an advocate for endometrial cancer awareness, and I share resources I find. A few weeks ago I came across this excellent brochure produced by the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. 

I’ve dedicated a page on Friend for the Ride to endometrial cancer. You can visit it here. Please share this page on your social media sites. Let’s spread the word! Thanks!

My Cancer Story: Twenty Months

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As I wrote here, sometimes joy abounds in shocking ways. I never would have guessed that my two days spent in this place, UNC Hospital, would be two of the happiest of my life. On my way back for a checkup at twenty months, this thought hit me anew. And why so happy? A successful surgery, little pain, AND a best case pathology report. My cancer was early stage, and I needed no further treatments.

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That’s my reflection in the glass. I had about twenty minutes before my appointment, so I took a nostalgic stroll around the hospital. I walked past the desk where Cliff and I checked in at six AM on surgery morning. I recall feeling subdued but calm. In an article I wrote for Sixty and Me, I called it “Cancer Courage.” Shout out to reader Cheryl who is rocking Cancer Courage right now, as she prepares for her sixth chemo infusion for breast cancer.

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The Ladies Room Door Art Series had just begun. I was pleased at my pre-op visit to find this door with UNC’s symbol of the Old Well. Snapped it again!

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And what a happy ride I took in one of these slick carts when it was time to go home post-surgery.

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I’m a Duke grad, but I got my master’s in library science at UNC. In fact, I had my first gyno exam at the health facility there shortly before my wedding. Never would have guessed I’d return almost forty years later for exams of a more serious nature.

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Even though I’m twenty months post-surgery, it still takes me back to see this sign. Oncology. Think Cancer.

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The photos below no doubt call up a yuck reaction. Most women hate pelvic exams. I’ve become a pro, but more importantly, I don’t hate them anymore. Thus far, post-surgery, they’ve brought me good news. It sure puts a bounce in my step when the doctor announces that all looks well. (A bounce in my step, that is, after I get off the table).

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My oncologist, Paola Gerhig, confirmed that I am to see her once a year and my gynecologist six months later, for five years. At that point, if I’ve had no recurrence, Dr. Gerhig will release me to the care of my gynecologist.

But not before I say what I say each time I see her: “Thank you for saving my life.”

Endometrial Cancer:  Please don’t hesitate to contact me, as some of you have, with personal concerns. You can read my cancer story on Friend for the Ride’s Endometrial Cancer page.

 

Tampons for Screening Endometrial Cancer

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Endometrial cancer, which I had surgery for in July, 2014, is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. The cure rate is very high if caught early, but there’s no early detection test.

Good news! That test is on the way. And it involves our old friends: tampons.

The Mayo Clinic reports: “Researchers at Mayo Clinic have shown that it is possible to detect endometrial cancer using tumor DNA picked up by ordinary tampons. The new approach specifically examines DNA samples from vaginal secretions for the presence of chemical “off” switches — known as methylation — that can disable genes that normally keep cancer in check.”

Read the rest of the article here.

And watch this short presentation by one of the researchers.

I don’t have any more details on the test such as the false positive or false negative rates or the cost, but let’s hope the research is right and the test proves a good one. Talk about being rescued by a tampon!