Mum knows best

This gynae cancer awareness month, Mandy Broadbent is sharing her story of how her mum's advice got her to the doctors and diagnosed early with womb cancer and why she is Going Red this gynae cancer awareness month.

I was attending a work event in January last year and had a particularly heavy bleed (luckily, I was dressed in black). As I took my pants off, I simply had to put them in the shower.

Previous to that I hadn’t had a period since I was 50, so I did think it was a bit peculiar – but just put it down to the fact that ‘these things happen’.

I’d mentioned the bleed to my Mum and she suggested going to the GP, in fact she kept nattering at me but I just put it off due to the menopause – I simply didn’t think anything of it. Without her, I never would have gone to get checked out.

I visited my GP, and by this time it’s March and he suggested this wasn’t normal for me and my bloods were taken the following day.

My bloods came back clear but I was referred for a scan the following week, where they also took a biopsy.

The results were back the following week in early April, but I was feeling just fine and I didn’t have any idea at all that anything could have caused an issue.

On the 12 April, when I was just 54, I was invited back to see my Consultant and asked to sit down.  To my horror they told me that they’d found what they thought were the early stages of womb cancer. I honestly thought they’d got the wrong person, I was in complete and utter shock and immediately questioned the consultant – ‘are you sure you’ve got the right patient?’ I must have said this several times.

They said I would need an MRI scan to confirm the stage and grade of cancer but it was recommended that I should have a full hysterectomy – I went into overdrive and tried to be practical but I’d never had any sort of operation, other than my tonsils at the age of 6!

I shopped that weekend for nightwear, got plenty of food in the house, cleaned the house from top to toe, organised my workload. There was really no time at all to think or worry of what was ahead for me.

I had an MRI scan the following Tuesday – it had only been a few days since I’d received the news so I felt all-over-the-shop, but it was at this point I told close family members and colleagues. On the 18 May I had key-hole surgery. I realised I still had lots of questions and was put in touch with a Clinical Nurse Specialist, who confirmed Stage 1A womb cancer.

I hadn’t even heard of it. I knew of ovarian cancer because of my mother-in-law had sadly past away 2 years previously, but she went straight into end of life care. I sat with my nurse and talked through the process and procedures and discussed surgery and recovery – and thankfully I had my husband and family encouraging me to continue with my positive mental attitude.

It’s truly life changing; but I’m very, very fortunate as my surgery went extremely well and I was told that I didn’t need any chemotherapy.

I’ve now begun to realise I’ve had WOMB CANCER, and I don’t feel the same as I did before, I don’t think I ever will.  That’s something I have to learn to live with, there’s no changing it, no going back, and yes it’s strange at times. I have a strong faith but nothing could have prepared me for this.

I’m now more aware of the signs, and as women we can’t ignore these symptoms – I had one bleed, just one.

Fortunately for me, I took my mum’s advice because it wasn’t ‘just one of those things’.

If Mandy’s story has inspired you to Go Red this Gynae Cancer Awareness Month, you can sign up for you free fundraising pack HERE.