I thought it was the menopause but my symptoms were actually a rare cancer

I thought it was the menopause but my symptoms were actually a rare cancer

I assumed it was the menopause however my signs had been truly a uncommon most cancers

My husband, Phill, seen that my stomach had a humorous form (Picture: Jan McCluskey)

I discoverD the load crawling round my stomach when i used to be in my early 40s.

Usually a dimension 14, my garments began to get tighter round my center. I wasn’t consuming in a different way, however my abdomen was getting larger.

“I have to be in menopause,” I assumed to myself.

I spoke to a health care provider who additionally instructed me that was what it was and so I attributed my different signs – sizzling sweats, dry pores and skin, mind fog and anxiousness – to the change.

Then, a few 12 months earlier than I turned 60, I additionally started to wrestle with a leaky bladder. It was often at night time and once I was coughing or sneezing. Once more, I assumed it was one other symptom of menopause.

However then, once I turned 60, in June 2020, my husband, Phill, seen that my stomach had a humorous form – heavier on the backside, type of pear-shaped. And although my legs and arms had been very skinny, my stomach was nonetheless rising.

Though I used to be fearful, I did not assume it was value seeing a health care provider. Which, in hindsight, was foolish.

In July 2020, I had a routine blood check at my physician’s workplace and the outcomes got here again telling me that my hemoglobin was low so wanted to be investigated.

I obtained a telephone name from my GP who mentioned he needed to see me, and the identical day I had my blood checks redone.

I wasn’t too fearful – till my physician instructed me I needed to go to Lincoln Hospital for an ultrasound in a number of days. I used to be fearful however general relieved that they might resolve the signs I had been experiencing for almost 20 years.

The day after my ultrasound my GP referred to as me at 8am to inform me there was one thing in my ovary and he wanted to analyze the opportunity of ovarian most cancers. Reduction turned to worry, which was compounded by the truth that I needed to go to each appointment by myself because of Covid restrictions.

The anticipate the outcomes was horrible. Day-after-day I braced myself for information that by no means got here. I used to be going to oscillate between considering, “If it was actually unhealthy, I’d have heard about it by now” and “Perhaps it is so unhealthy they should get one other opinion”.

After 4 weeks the outcomes got here again exhibiting that the scan discovered what they thought was a mass on my ovary. Additional investigations adopted and I had fluid drained from the mass.

Jan was hospitalized for two weeks

I needed to have a nine-hour operation to take away my spleen, gallbladder, navel and different ovaries (Image: Jan McCluskey)

The physician warned me it could possibly be PMP, or Pseudomyxoma Peritonei – a uncommon most cancers that begins to develop on the appendix – however that they had solely had one case in Lincoln earlier than . It’s rapidly confirmed.

A lump fashioned in my throat when a guide confirmed that it had already unfold to my abdomen.

Fortunately, he mentioned my prognosis appeared pretty much as good because it will get, however we cannot know for positive till I’ve surgical procedure to take away the most cancers cells. I wanted two main operations after which I’d be carefully watched for the subsequent 10 years.

It took some time for the information to drop, however again house with Phill and our daughter Sarah, 29, I burst into tears. They had been shocked however supported me by being optimistic and refusing to let me wallow – as a substitute repeating what my physician had mentioned: that he thought it was treatable.

I underwent deflation surgical procedure, which concerned draining fluid out of my belly cavity. They instructed me afterwards that that they had drained 5 liters and that I had misplaced two stones within the course of. No surprise my abdomen is so bloated.

In addition they eliminated my appendix, the place the most cancers had began, and my proper ovary, as a big cyst was rising there.

After the operation, the physician defined to me that I had in all probability had a burst appendix sooner or later up to now, which may have brought about the most cancers to unfold.

I spent 5 days at Christie’s Hospital in Manchester earlier than returning house to relaxation.

However six months later, in April, I returned to the hospital for main surgical procedure – this time I needed to have a nine-hour operation to take away my spleen, gallbladder, navel and different ovaries.

In addition they scraped my liver to take away undesirable cells and stuffed my belly cavity with heat chemo fluid to eliminate any remaining most cancers cells. I used to be very terrified of how the chemo would have an effect on me as a result of I had by no means heard of it earlier than.

Jan with a coffee

I now have scans and blood checks each six months to verify the most cancers hasn’t returned (Image: Jan McCluskey)

As I opened my eyes, groggy, after the operation, I instantly noticed the large scar from my sternum to my public bone. I may barely bear to have a look at it, and once I touched it, I felt extremely unhappy. With my navel eliminated, my stomach felt like the highest of a pumpkin.

I stayed within the hospital for 2 weeks to get better and through that point I could not eat a lot.

Fortunately, all of my procedures had been profitable in clearing the most cancers, however I am nonetheless on treatment that I will in all probability be on for the remainder of my life.

I now have scans and blood checks each six months to verify the most cancers has not returned. I’m affected by excessive fatigue however I really feel stronger for what I’ve been by and grateful to have the help of Phill and Sarah.

I now know that I went by menopause, as my intervals stopped, however I nonetheless do not know which of the signs I skilled had been truly brought on by it and which had been because of most cancers.

I nonetheless cannot imagine that for all these years I assumed I used to be simply having signs of menopause when in actuality I used to be being attacked by a particularly uncommon most cancers.

So now I’m telling my story to lift consciousness for PMP and the help I’ve obtained from Pseudomyxoma Survivor Charity. Due to them, I used to be launched to an entire community of survivors like me.

Different signs of PMP embrace abnormality of the stomach and peritoneum, belly swelling, and belly ache. In case you have signs like mine, do not ignore them and blame them on The Change!

Typically ladies attempt to stick with it as regular after they really feel sick or really feel variations of their physique, particularly if they’re at a time of their life the place they assume it’s menopause.

Nevertheless, I’m proof that it doesn’t matter what you assume, it’s at all times greatest to get a second opinion from a medical skilled.

As mentioned to Rachel Tompkins

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