Giving Womb Cancer A Voice – Lauren’s Story

Lauren Louise was diagnosed with womb cancer in 2021. She was determined to save her fertility and, after discussing options, chose not to have a hysterectomy. Three years after surgery Lauren is well on her journey to start fertility treatment.
Lauren would like to encourage anyone experiencing symptoms of womb cancer not to be embarrassed and get checked out by their GP. In her words “we all have the same bits, it’s just another body part to the professionals!”

In April 2021 my life took an unexpected diversion, one I was never prepared for, one I think no one is ever prepared for and that’s completely normal! For 3 years prior, I had been bleeding almost every day, never really in pain, mostly light bleeding and rarely heavy. I approached my GP on a number of occasions who put this down to me having PCOS that I was diagnosed with around 2011. 

My periods had always been extremely irregular, but I went from having a period twice a year, to bleeding daily, so I just knew something wasn’t right. After 3 years of constant bleeding and feeling extremely fed up, I was finally referred to see a gynaecologist where I had an in-office biopsy to investigate what was going on. After MONTHS of me chasing up the results, I was informed my results were lost. After a lot of stress, they were found and I was told I needed to go for a hysteroscopy and another biopsy as my results suggested traces of polyps. 

While waiting for this appointment, a little thing called COVID reared its head and we were hit with the pandemic. Absolutely not what was needed! After months of waiting, I decided to ring and chase it up. Due to me waiting so long I was now classed as an “emergency case” and they were only dealing with emergencies due to the pandemic. 

On 9th April 2021, I attended my appointment at Royal Oldham Hospital. During the hysteroscopy a polyp was discovered and removed. In the words of the consultant, it was “almost the size of the womb!” A biopsy was taken and everything was sent off for investigation. At this point I was told I would receive my results in writing. So, you can imagine the sheer panic a week later when I received a phone call to come into clinic. 

April 23rd 2021, the day my life changed forever. 
I made my way to the hospital with my mum to be told “cancer cannot be ruled out”. You know when you see the adverts on TV of someone receiving their diagnosis and everything goes quiet, people are still talking but you just can’t hear them? That’s exactly what happened. I can remember how I felt, the exact moment I broke down and the pain I felt, but I can’t for the life of me remember what was said. And all while having these feelings, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude that the universe made sure I received this news while my mum was visiting from Scotland. This day was the first time a hysterectomy was mentioned but, in the meantime, the Mirena coil was placed. 

Unbeknownst to me, my biopsy was sent for further testing in central Manchester. On the 17th of May 2021 I received a phone call to attend clinic urgently the day after and was told “it is more than likely womb cancer”. After a couple more appointments to discuss my options, I was adamant I wanted to try to save my fertility. The thought of giving up on my lifelong dream of becoming a mummy was something I was not prepared to do. 

In June 2021 I first met Professor Emma Crosbie and her team. From day one I just knew I was in safe hands, the best hands possible to guide me through this whirlwind and to give me first class care. Professor Crosbie arranged for me to have a little operation (another hysteroscopy, D&C, biopsy and possible polypectomy as there was suspicion there was at least one more polyp).

Op day arrives and I made my way to the hospital alone (because we’re still in the height of a pandemic) absolutely terrified. After my procedure, the surgeon informed me my whole womb was covered in tiny polyps which were suspected to have formed since the removal of the large one back in April. I’m not one to mind a hospital stay, so when I was told the day after I was free to go home, I had to ask if they were sure! Those electric adjustable beds are too comfy haha! 

After another appointment with Professor Crosbie and now having 4 comorbidities, it was vital for me to lose weight to save my life. And so I was referred for urgent bariatric surgery (little did I know, 5 short months later this surgery would happen!).

In the meantime, while waiting for surgery, another biopsy was taken and sent over to Belfast to one of the world’s leading pathologists because they found something in this biopsy that they weren’t sure on. The pathologist stated it’s another suspicious type of cancer that can be aggressive and my oncologist doubted it would respond to my current treatment (Mirena).

At my request, I kept the Mirena in and hoped for the best. I wasn’t ready to give up yet. But I was made aware if this other suspicious type shows again, a further discussion regarding a hysterectomy would be needed. I held on to the fact that it was a 50/50 chance and did my absolute best to stay positive. Because after all, our bodies thrive off positivity. And it worked!! I continued to have biopsies and MRI scans every 3 months and eventually I got my first clear biopsy!  Followed by a few more clear biopsies! At first you don’t believe it and you feel you need more checks to be sure. This is something I am still working on closely with my counsellor. 

As of today, I am 6st 4.5lb down and battling to get the next 3st off so I am able to start my fertility treatment journey to get my little miracle. But if I can stay positive through my cancer journey, I can stay positive through this! 

Women are out here daily living with symptoms they believe to be unusual for them but assume not life threatening because the awareness is not where it needs to be. A statistic I read in a Boots magazine that shocked me to the core – 21 women today will die of gynae cancer. Another 57 will receive their diagnosis. Yet 58% of women still feel too embarrassed or are unaware of the importance of speaking up about gynae health

Let me tell you, THEY’VE SEEN IT ALL BEFORE. They’re not looking to see if you’ve shaved and aren’t disgusted if you haven’t had time to. We’re all human, ladies and we all have the same bits, it’s just another body part to the professionals! 

The last thing I will leave you with is BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Know that within you, you have the strength to GROW through absolutely anything! 

Lauren Louise