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My Story | Patricia K. (PK), Manitoba, Canada

Endometrial cancer, stage 3a
Diagnosed 2000 at 41
Hysterectomy, chemotherapy, radiation

I am a mother of two teens. I lived on a farm in the middle of the prairies. I had what I thought was a wonderful, quiet life - skiing in the winter and spending time with my girls in the summer. I started to bleed heavily on Christmas of 1999. I never had regular periods, but most of my doctors never really seem concerned. So, I thought I was having just another long period. But when January came, the bleeding had not stopped.

I went to a new doctor, one that helped with my diabetes the previous year. He sent me to a specialist and immediately, I was diagnosed with cancer. I really didn't know what to think. I felt life was over. My girls, 13 and 9 years old at the time, comforted me often through the days after that call. I would cry frequently. My thoughts of never seeing them grow up hurt more than anything.

I was to have surgery immediately. They felt it was a fast-moving cancer and needed to know if it had spread to my lymph glands.  So, my total abdominal hysterectomy was completed in April of 2000. The cancer had spread from the uterine wall, but, luckily for me, not to any of my lymph glands. Then I started on the road of treatments...

I had six radiation treatments and six months of chemo. The radiation was not as bad as I thought, just uncomfortable. But the chemo was very difficult for me. I don't know the names of the drugs they gave me. It was bad enough just having to sit there and take each one.

After my first treatment, my hair hurt. I knew it was supposed to fall out, but my scalp hurt. So I shaved it off. I couldn't stand the pain of it pulling on my scalp. I knew it would go anyway. I never wore a wig: I felt silly and I couldn't stand the stares. After all, I was having chemo, I had cancer and I was supposed to be bald. The second and third chemo treatments went the same way. I would have chemo on Monday, be sick for three days and was back to my tired self by day four.

The fourth chemo treatment brought my life into focus. I knew things were not right between my husband and me. Because of his coldness and his lack of love, I took comfort in my girls. ( saved my life that week, along with the great help of my little girls. I was sick immediately with the chemo drugs that Monday. My girls helped each day, finding things to drink. I was getting more and more dehydrated each day. I was not bouncing back and was too sick to do anything after four days with no liquids. I had the girls write to the discussion list in order to get help for me. They asked the list members for ideas on what I could drink that I would be able to keep down. The list came through for them.

On Thursday night, my husband came home and sat on the side of my bed. I was so sick, dehydrated and lost. I asked him to give me just one reason to live. He got up and went to watch TV. That moment, I gave up my life. I asked God to take me. I was too sick to fight anymore. Feeling lost and unloved, I quit.

But another morning came. God didn't take me. My girls found a mixture of chocolate ice cream and milk that worked, and more suggestions came pouring in from After six days of vomiting I was finally bouncing back. 

Many things changed that Thursday. After that moment, I saw life with new eyes. I fought my way through two more chemos. I made plans to leave the farm and my husband.

I have been on my own for three and a half years. The girls and I have struggled and found that life is really beautiful when you have support and love. I own my own tiny house in the city. I have a wonderful job teaching four- and five-year-old children. Cancer is a part of my life, but not all of it. I am nine months into remission. I have found a reason to live in my girls, who are wonderful teens. The oldest is graduating from high school next year. My youngest is an honor student. I love them both. I will always be grateful for their love that got me through that week in August of 2000. The fight was worth it! Thank you to all the friends who helped me that week. I will always be grateful to you,, for the help you gave my two little girls that week. They remember you, too.

Editor's Note: PK writes that not only is her cancer in remission, but she has had a "spontaneous remission" of her diabetes as well. She says, "I'm a very lucky person!" We agree, PK.

May 2004

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