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My Story | Carol H., California, USA

Recurrent uterine papillary serous carcinoma (UPSC)
Diagnosed 1998 at 49
Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy

I am an eight-year survivor of uterine (endometrial) cancer. I was diagnosed at age 49. I had gone through early menopause and noticed some spotting. I called my ob/gyn and made an appointment for a checkup. At that time, he did a biopsy. They found cancerous cells, some of an aggressive form called papillary serous. I was referred immediately to a gynecologic oncologist (gyn-onc) who recommended a complete hysterectomy. During surgery, it was discovered the cancer had spread out of the uterus to some of the pelvic lymph nodes, so I would need more treatment - a course of 30 radiation treatments, five days a week for six weeks.

I was symptom-free for four and a half years until I developed a cough. Scans revealed spots on my lungs, abdominal wall, and stomach area. My gyn-onc recommended I undergo chemotherapy - a combination of taxol and carboplatin - once a month for five months. I remained symptom-free for two and a half years.

My last recurrence was in October of 2003 when it was discovered I had a brain lesion. I was treated with stereotactic radiotherapy - a dose of radiation given for 45 minutes to a specific area of the brain. I had a severe reaction to this, and for two weeks, I could scarcely get the covers off me in bed, much less walk. In late November, I was admitted to the hospital with pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs). I was released a week later and again began the healing process. I have MRI's (magnetic resonance imaging) every three months and CA (cancer antigen) 125 tests every six weeks. My last MRI showed some increased swelling near the lesion, so I have been put back on steroids to reduce the swelling.

Throughout this whole process, I have been pain-free, able to play tennis, travel, and quilt. I have been able to have fun with my husband; family and friends have been great. In many ways this journey has been a positive and eye-opening experience. I belong to an upbeat support group with a tremendous facilitator and have formed some very strong bonds with the women there.

I try to maintain a positive attitude and live each day as fully as I can. I have participated in the Relay for Life and found that to be a moving experience. I look forward to seeing other stories shared.

May 2004

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