#WombWednesday: The fear of losing my ability to have a family

Throughout September and beyond, #TeamEve wants to spread much-needed awareness among both men and women about gynaecological cancers and their associated signs and symptoms - because as we know, early detection is key and that is only possible because with knowledge, comes power!

Vaishali is a 33-year old Primary School teacher in Preston, yet despite being so young, was sadly diagnosed with womb cancer last year. In our latest blog for #GynaeMonth, she recounts her experience and having the deal with the fact that she may not be able to have the family she has always wanted in the future.

My husband and I have been married for over 2 years, and we decided to try for a baby last year in 2016. My periods had changed significantly – I was spotting in between periods and then my periods became really heavy so I went to see my GP.

We hadn’t had any luck in conceiving so I asked to be referred to a gynaecologist. I was especially concerned as I suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and knew I could find it hard to conceive. In December 2016, I had some fertility testing, where they found a large polyp in my uterus and I was advised to have it removed – it was purely described as a normal procedure and that I shouldn’t be overly concerned. They mentioned that they would conduct ‘ovarian drilling’ at the same time to help increase my fertility.

I had the surgery in March to remove the polyp and ovarian drilling, but received a phone call over a week later from the hospital requesting I come and see the gynaecologist as soon as possible. I knew at that point there was something wrong, especially as this was after I had already booked a post-op appointment.

The nurse on the phone said ‘can you bring someone with you’ which signalled bad news to me – as I knew they’d want to discuss the samples they’d taken from my uterus. I went to the appointment two weeks after my operation, and it was there that the gynaecologist told me that I had endometrial cancer – I was in complete shock and didn’t know what to think.

Vaishali and her husband Rahul

I phoned my parents to let them know, and for them to tell the rest of my family; and we told my husband’s family too – which was all very difficult, as like me, they were just in shock, but immediately thought about the saddest stages of cancer.

I saw the oncologist on 18th April – and they explained what they found and the options we had; because as we’d been trying to get pregnant – they recommended opting for hormone treatment (high-dose progesterone) for a period of 6 months. I have since received a second opinion with a womb specialist in Manchester and I have opted to change my treatment to the one she has recommended.

All fertility preserving treatment is in a trial stage, but I feel like I have to try everything possible so that at least I can say I tried my best and not be filled with regret. It has been a very difficult road as my chances of having my own family is up in the air. I have no idea what will happen in the next 12 months and I think that is the most difficult thing to deal with – the not knowing. I know my cancer is in an early stage so I am not scared of a life or death situation. The fear is of what happens next and how I will cope if the treatment doesn’t work and I have to have the hysterectomy. It sounds like an easy choice – my life or having my own child. The logical choice is to choose life, unfortunately this is not a situation that is logical – it’s a very emotional one.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I want other women to be aware that this could happen to anyone and that if you notice any changes in your cycle to get checked. The chances are it might not be womb cancer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.