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My Story | Dianne, Victoria, Australia

Vulvar carcinoma in situ (VIN III), 1996 at 32

For six years I had been going to doctors, telling them that my vulvar area was sore and itchy, but they just brushed me off as having thrush. As the years went on, they misdiagnosed me with herpes. I was told this at least ten times a year, and every time they said this, I would come home and scrub my body, feeling dirty. The way they treated me made me feel that way.

During all this time, I had two beautiful kids, but I was still putting up with the irritation. Three years later, I went to my doctor, complaining again about how sore and itchy my vulvar area was. It was getting so bad that I couldn't sleep without the skin splitting open on its own. When my doctor examined me this time, however, she decided she didn't like the look of it, and finally sent me off to a specialist.

I saw the specialist the next week and he did a biopsy. Two weeks later I returned and learned that the results were positive for cancer. I was sent to another specialist to confirm the findings. He told me that I had to have the area removed, that it would be a simple procedure, and that he would only remove an area about two inches by two inches in size.

The following week I went to the hospital. When I came out of surgery, the doctor told my husband that they removed an area the size of an orange. Because the area was so big, I had many, many stitches, and I was black and blue from my waist to my knees.

They sent me home from the hospital with no antibiotics or pain killers. They rang the next day to say they forgot, and asked if I would come down and get them. "No," I replied, "I can't sit, so how could I drive?" So later on in the day, I went down to my local doctor to get the medication, and when he saw me, he was in shock.

Things finally settled down. I continued with all the follow-up visits, but they only seemed concerned about my cervix but not the vulvar area. I knew I needed to find a new doctor, and it took me three years to finally find a good gynaecologic oncologist. She works with a well-known professor in Victoria, and is fantastic. I now see her every six months, and in the last year, have had a cyst drained from one ovary and have been diagnosed with lichen simplex. I still have a lot of discomfort and itching.

I do hope my story helps someone else who is having the same problem as I have.

October 2001

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