My Story – Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer: Two Years Post-Hysterectomy

Chinese Medicine Doll_cropped
Chinese “Doctors’ Lady”: Early social customs interfered with direct patient contact by physicians. Some Eastern cultures considered physical examination inappropriate, and female patients were required to point out areas of discomfort on carved “doctors’ ladies.”

This Tuesday, November 17, 2015, was my (almost) two-year post-hysterectomy checkup. I underwent a total da Vinci hysterectomy for uterine (endometrial) cancer on December 13, 2013 (a Friday).

Following is a brief update on my progress and information about a clinical research study I agreed to participate in. Previous posts about my cancer story are here.

On Tuesday, my gynecologic oncologist spent two minutes examining me. I asked whether I was now a “blank slate,” and he said, smiling, that I was.

For the past two years, I have seen either my GO or my regular gynecologist every three months, alternately. Now I will see each of them once a year, or two gyn visits a year. My visits had been frequent because of what turned out to be a benign, if unexplained, ongoing vaginal discharge since I had postoperative vaginal brachytherapy. Multiple examinations and Pap smears turned up no pathology, despite an initial abnormal report, so the multiple visits were more annoying than worrying—at least in retrospect. (I still have the discharge; pantiliners are a permanent part of my wardrobe.)

As I reported in the May 13, 2015 post, my surgeon asked me to participate in a clinical research study that he and his partner are doing to try to determine “The Relationship of Patient Characteristics to Molecular Genetic Changes in Uterine Carcinoma.”  My post-surgical tissues will be sampled and examined microscopically, and I was interviewed by the study coordinator this past August. The questions raised the issue of keeping a complete, accurate, up-to-date family medical history, which I hadn’t quite done. Since that time, I have questioned a few of my relatives and filled in some of the gaps.

Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in developed countries, and the fourth most common cancer in American women (and also in the United Kingdom, I believe). Although the disease is most often diagnosed in women in their 50s or 60, about 25 percent of cases occur before menopause—young women cannot assume they are exempt. Read more at these sites, among many others: CDC Uterine Cancer StatisticsWebMD emedicinehealth – Endometrial Cancer, and Cancer.Net – Uterine Cancer: Statistics

So I am happy to participate in a study that may reveal predisposing factors for uterine cancer from evaluating family medical history and lifestyle facts and practices. A template of the questionnaire used for this clinical research study is here. I urge those of you who have any experience with uterine cancer to review it, whether you or a loved one has been affected—or may be at risk. Also, when I was first diagnosed, I did a lot of reading about uterine cancer risk factors, many of which I had. I also urge you to read about them here.

Two years ago this month, I was preparing to do battle with uterine cancer. (Again, you can read the whole story here). And now I can add my name to the increasingly long list of cancer survivors. I wish you and your loved ones the same. 

And Happy Thanksgiving 2015. Good health is certainly one of our greatest blessings.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns.Chinese Doctor's Lady 3

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