*The translation of this article in French and Portuguese has been made through machine translation and has not been edited yet. we apologise for any inaccuracies.
How is life experienced after getting diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer, such as uterine cancer? Hear from María Cebrián from Spain about how she coped with her diagnosis and why the power of maintaining a positive mindset is vital in overcoming obstacles related to uterine cancer and beyond.
Gynaecological cancer refers to cancer that affects the reproductive organs of the female body. The primary types of which include cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and uterine cancer. Each year September is recognised worldwide as gynaecological cancer awareness month.
Women with gynaecologic cancers can often experience little to no symptoms at all, regular screenings and reporting any changes in your body are important. The American Cancer Society recommends that, at menopause, all women should be told about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer and strongly encouraged to report any vaginal bleeding, discharge, or spotting to their doctor.
Before her diagnosis, María only experienced extreme fatigue and noticed changes in her complexion. Utilising Spain’s national health system, which provides free healthcare to all citizens, she sought medical advice at a public hospital. However, they failed to detect her cancer. Trusting her instincts, María sought a second opinion at a private clinic, where she finally received the official diagnosis of uterine cancer.
Overcoming Fear and Uterine Cancer Recovery
As a mother of two teenagers at the time, fear initially consumed her, but it also made her more determined to fight and survive. “With 2 adolescent kids, I was so afraid at first about what was going to happen. Maybe that was the reason why I knew I had to fight so hard.” The entire process felt like a whirlwind. Within just 15 days of her uterine cancer diagnosis, María underwent a hysterectomy. Post-surgery, she was prescribed chemotherapy pills that, fortunately, didn’t weaken her too much. Instead, she found even more determination to continue her recovery from uterine cancer. “I felt good after each round of pills – I felt that I recovered stronger each time.”
Unfortunately, during her hysterectomy, a complication arose – a vesicovaginal fistula, an abnormal opening between the bladder and vagina. This led to chronic cystitis, urinary tract infections, and kidney infections for María. Over the past four years, she has diligently taken oral medication to prevent further kidney infections and has also turned to natural remedies, such as cranberries, to manage her urinary and kidney issues. Her philosophy is to prioritise holistic approaches, reducing reliance on chemical medications and focusing instead on maintaining a positive mindset in her uterine cancer recovery.
The Power of Positive and Uterine Cancer Support
Though María doesn’t participate in formal uterine cancer support groups, she does take pride in being a pillar of strength and support for her community. Her neighbours, aware of her triumph over uterine cancer, frequently seek her advice during their own battles. She firmly believes staying positive is key to overcoming any obstacle. “I feel it is best to keep my mind busy, so I make a habit of looking to the future, not to the past as much as possible.”
María’s advice to others facing similar challenges is simple yet profound, “You must keep having strength and do not give up, believe that everything works out. What I used the most in my uterine cancer recovery was positivism. For me, the most important thing is to continue staying positive.”
If necessary, there are various groups and platforms available to provide knowledge, encouragement, and support to those facing challenges related to gynaecological cancers.
- World Ovarian Cancer Coalition (WOCC): An organisation dedicated to raising awareness on ovarian cancer, providing support and resources for patients and their families, and advocating for improved research and treatment options.
- World Endometriosis Society (WES): While not exclusively focused on endometrial cancer, WES plays a crucial role in addressing issues related to endometriosis, a condition that can increase the risk of endometrial cancer. They provide education, support, and advocacy for those affected by endometriosis.
- Foundation for Women’s Cancer (FWC): FWC is a U.S.-based organisation focusing on gynaecological cancers, including uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, and vaginal cancer. They offer resources, support, and education for patients and healthcare professionals and fund research efforts.
Gynaecological cancers have become increasingly prevalent among women worldwide. Between 2016 and 2020, uterine cancer deaths increased by nearly 1% annually.* In 2023, it is projected that approximately 66,200 individuals in the United States will receive a uterine or endometrial cancer diagnosis, ranking uterine cancer as the fourth most common cancer among American women. Globally, in 2020, around 417,367 people were diagnosed with uterine cancer and an estimated 97,370 individuals lost their lives due to uterine cancer.
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