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My Story | Joyce W., Washington, USA

Recurrent endometrial cancer, diagnosed at 65
Hysterectomy, radiation, chemotherapy

By Bonnie, her daughter

I'm a daughter of a wonderful woman who didn't survive endometrial cancer. I want women out there to understand how devastating this cancer can be. My mom was a selfless woman who didn't like to be a burden to anyone. She was the one who took care of our entire family (cooking, cleaning, laundry) with no complaints. She was 65 years old when she was diagnosed. She made it another seven months.

The problem started with her not being honest with us about her symptoms. She was post-menopausal for 17 years when she started bleeding.  She went to her family doctor (even though my sister and I kept insisting she see a gynecologist). He did several tests, wasting precious time, and finally referred her to a gynecologist. She had a hysterectomy, pre-cautionary radiation and then, two months later, was diagnosed with nine new tumors - two in her brain, three in her lungs, and some in her abdomen and vagina.  They thought they got it all, but obviously the cancer got in her lymph nodes and spread. She did try chemo but never finished.

I want all women out there to not be embarrassed to talk about their bodies. You are the ones who know how you feel, and when something is not right. If you don't like the answers the doctor gives you, ask for another opinion. We had never gone through anything like this before. When a doctor said she needed to go to surgery, we didn't ask questions, we just did it. When they said she needed pre-cautionary radiation, we didn't ask if that was going to be enough. When the cancer came back (I don't think it ever really left), we didn't question the doctor's new "treatment plan."

When we knew she was declining, my sister asked the onocologist point blank, "Is she terminal?" The doctor said, "No, she needs to finish her treatment plan." We believed him, and two weeks later, she was gone. Please listen to your bodies, listen to your family members, ask questions, keep bugging the doctor(s) for answers until you feel satisfied.

We now know about hospice. Nobody at the cancer center sat down with us to explain anything. We wish now that we could have just taken her home to die in her own bed. I didn't find your website until she was gone. God bless you all for being out there to get the messages out to women and anyone with cancer.

I'm sorry my story isn't as positive as that of a survivor, but I guess I'm surviving everyday without my mother. My kids are surviving everyday without their grandmother. My dad is surviving everyday without his spouse. In that sense, I guess we are "survivors" also.

May 2004

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