A woman was told her heavy periods were normal after pregnancy. It was actually an early sign of uterine cancer.
Kelly Pendry, 42, saw a doctor for heavy bleeding after pregnancy in 2016.
Five years later, she was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer, the BBC reported.
She can't get surgery in the UK, but is hoping to travel to the US for medical care.
When Kelly Pendry, 42, was diagnosed with advanced stage uterine cancer in November 2021, she said a nurse told her "not to make plans for Christmas," according to the BBC.
More than a year and six rounds of chemotherapy later, Pendry is still seeking treatment options. The mom of two told the BBC that she wonders if things would be different had she been diagnosed earlier.
Pendry started experiencing pain and heavy bleeding in 2016, after the birth of her second child. She told the news outlet that her doctors attributed her symptoms to her recent pregnancy and suggested she take a contraceptive pill or get an IUD to regulate her period.
She said another practitioner prescribed her antidepressants for her symptoms.
"I felt like I was a drama queen," Pendry said, according to the BBC. "I felt like I was overthinking it, I felt like, 'is this in my head a bit, is this stupid?'"
Despite bleeding more days than not, Pendry had to wait five years to get an accurate diagnosis. By that time, her cancer was terminal.
She was close to getting her uterus removed, but the pandemic delayed her care
In April 2020, Pendry saw a doctor who finally validated her symptoms.
"He said, 'How are you even coping,'" she told the BBC. "I said, 'I'm not.'"
Pendry told the outlet that she spent some days "doubled over in pain," and she also gained weight without explanation. She said the doctor felt lumps in her abdomen, signaling that something was amiss.
Later that year, she said she was diagnosed with benign fibroids, or non-cancerous growths in her uterus. Doctors recommended she have her uterus removed entirely in a hysterectomy, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused multiple appointment delays.
By 2021, it was too late for that surgery. She was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer called uterine leiomyosarcoma that November, and was told surgery was not an option due to her terminal status.
This cancer affects nearly 2,000 people in the US each year
Uterine leiomyosarcoma is relatively rare compared to other forms of uterine cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, leiomyosarcoma (LMS) may grow in the intestines, stomach, bladder, or uterus — any hollow organ with smooth muscle tissue.
Compared to other types of cancer that affect the uterus, LMS is often more aggressive and harder to treat, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 6 in every 1 million Americans are diagnosed with LMS of the uterus each year — that's close to 2,000 people annually.
Some patients do not experience symptoms when the cancer first develops, making it all the more difficult to treat in the later stages. According to the National Cancer Institute, symptoms of LMS may include pain, unintentional weight loss, nausea and vomiting, and lumps under the skin.
Pendry hopes to get surgery in the US
A year after completing chemotherapy, Pendry told the BBC she still experiences fatigue, aches, and hot flashes as a side effect of hormone inhibitors meant to stall the cancer's growth.
While she is unable to get a hysterectomy in the UK, she's hoping to buy more time to get her uterus removed in the US.
Pendry said she's been stable for a year, but she knows her cancer could progress at any time. Her husband, Michael, is planning an 180-mile charity run in hopes of raising money for her to get surgery in the US.
The US healthcare system allows patients to pay for an elective surgery out of pocket if they can afford it, contrary to the UK's National Health Service. Pendry's family is aiming to raise roughly $60,000 to pay for her hysterectomy abroad, according to the BBC.
Read more at BBC News>>
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