Angela grogan

Angela's Story - Uterine Cancer

I was diagnosed with stage 3 Endometrial Uterine Adenocarcinoma in January 2019. But in all actuality, it started way before then.

Back in 2016 I went to my gynecologist because I had started bleeding, and it didn't stop. He did a pap smear, and the results came back normal. I was told that even though I was only 45 years old I was premenopausal and was put on birth control pills for 3 months to try and regulate my bleeding. The pills didn't work and 3 months later I was back at my gynecologist for my follow up appointment. He did an internal ultrasound but said the results were unremarkable and asked me if I was having any actual pain. Which at that time I wasn't. So he suggested I just wear pads and come back if things got worse. He was still sure I was just premenopausal.

Within 6 months I was back in his office I was bleeding so heavily by then I was soaking pads approximately every couple hours. I had another pap smear which came back normal. The doctor said we could talk about a partial hysterectomy, but he wasn't really convinced that was the way we should proceed at that time. I left his office and called another gynecologist to set up an appointment for a second opinion. Even though I told them my symptoms it was still almost 6 months before I could get in to see the second gynecologist. He did a pap smear, blood work and an internal ultrasound all which came back normal or unremarkable other than my white blood cells were slightly elevated. He agreed with my primary gynecologist that I was premenopausal. He said the symptoms I was having weren't normal, but some women did experience these exact symptoms when starting through menopause. I had two gynecologists tell me the same thing so I went home and did what they said to do...wait it out.

Then in early 2019 I started passing blood clots some the size of my hand. I was anemic and I was having pain in my lower abdomen so bad that I would literally lay and cry. I went back to my original gynecologist and told him they had to find out what was causing the pain. He said the only way they could find out was with a Biopsy which would be an outpatient surgical procedure at the hospital. I agreed to it and he tried to schedule me for a hysteroscopy, D&C and an Endometrial Ablation. Unfortunately, my insurance company first denied all of these as unnecessary. So, the doctor had to resubmit for reapproval of these tests in a different manner. Once the tests were approved and completed to his surprise the results came back as Stage 3 Endometrial Uterine Adenocarcinoma that had metastasized to 13 lymph nodes.

I was referred to a gynecologist oncologist and a month later he did a radical hysterectomy. 6 weeks later I went through 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation. I had my CT scans and was told I still had cancer. Then the doctor put me on some immunotherapy drugs. I was on those for 6 months then had another set of scans. My cancer didn't respond to those drugs either. So, I was told I would have to do another 6 months of chemotherapy. This round of chemo the drugs were stronger, and I lost all my hair.

I underwent another surgery where they removed more infected lymph nodes. The second round of chemo made me so weak I couldn't walk across the floor without passing out. I was pretty much in bed or sitting in a wheelchair all the time. I lost a total of 74 lbs. I developed blood clots in my legs and was put on Eliquis. My blood levels dropped to severely low levels. I had to have several blood transfusions.

Once I was through with that second round of chemo, I had more scans and finally received the news there was no more cancer. After 3 years of trying to find out what was causing the bleeding and pain and approximately 24 months of surgeries and treatments, I was cancer free.

My advice is to know your body. If you feel something is wrong, keep insisting more tests be done. I truly believe if more tests had been done when I first went in to see my gynecologist, I would not have had to have so many chemo treatments. However, sometimes the doctor’s hands are tied by insurance companies. They are told to only schedule tests that are deemed absolutely necessary. Many times, in putting off those tests though it costs the insurance companies more in treatments and surgeries than if they would catch it earlier. Insurance companies need to put people's health and life above profits. If tests need to be done, they need to approve and pay for those tests.