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

My husband Phil observed that my abdomen was a humorous form (Photo: Ian McCluskey)

I observedd When I turned 40, I developed a heavy weight round my abdomen.

Usually a measurement 14, my garments are beginning to really feel tight across the waist. I did not eat otherwise, but my abdomen was getting larger.

“I have to be experiencing climax,” I mentioned to myself.

I talked to my physician, who additionally advised me what it was, so I chalked up my different symptoms—sizzling sweats, dry pores and skin, mind fog, and anxiousness—to Change.

Then, about a 12 months earlier than I turned 60, I additionally began fighting my bladder. It was largely at night time and when I coughed or sneezed. Again, I thought it was one other menopause symptom.

But then when I turned 60, in June 2020, my husband Phil observed that my stomach appeared humorous – bottom-heavy, pear-shaped. And though my legs and arms were very skinny, my abdomen was nonetheless rising.

Although I was frightened, I thought there was no want to hunt medical recommendation. Which, looking back, was silly.

In July 2020 I had a routine blood check at my GP surgical procedure and the outcomes advised me my hemoglobin was low and wanted to be investigated.

I obtained a name from my physician saying he needed to see me and I had my blood work executed once more the identical day.

I wasn’t too frightened – till my physician mentioned I wanted to go to Lincoln Hospital for an ultrasound in two days. I was frightened but relieved that they might unravel the symptoms I’ve been experiencing for nearly 20 years.

The day after the ultrasound, my physician known as at 8am to inform me that there was one thing unsuitable with my ovaries and that they wanted to be examined for ovarian cancer. Relief turned to concern, having to go to every appointment on my personal as a consequence of Covid restrictions.

Waiting for the outcomes was terrifying. Every day I was getting ready for the information that by no means got here. I bounced backwards and forwards between pondering, “If it was actually unhealthy, I’d hear now” and “Maybe it’s so unhealthy they need to get one other opinion.”

Four weeks later, the outcomes got here again and a scan revealed what I thought was a mass on my ovary. Upon additional exploration, I had fluid draining from the mass.

Ian spent two weeks in the hospital

I confronted 9 hours of surgical procedure to take away my spleen, gallbladder, abdomen and different ovaries (Image: Ian McCluskey)

The physician warned me that it may very well be PMP or Pseudomyxoma Peritonei – a rare cancer that begins within the appendix, but they’ve solely had one case in Lincoln earlier than. This was quickly confirmed.

I had a lump in my throat when the advisor confirmed it had unfold to my abdomen.

Fortunately, he mentioned my prognosis is nearly as good as it will be, but we cannot know for positive till I have surgical procedure to take away the cancer cells. I would want two main operations after which I can be below shut commentary for the subsequent 10 years.

It took a whereas for the information to interrupt, but I cried at dwelling with Phil and our 29-year-old daughter Sarah. They were shocked, but supported me in a optimistic approach, not letting me cry and repeating what my physician had mentioned: he thought it was treatable.

I had surgical procedure that concerned draining fluid from my stomach cavity. Later they advised me I had misplaced 5 liters of water and I had misplaced two stone. No marvel my abdomen is so bloated.

They additionally eliminated my appendix the place the cancer began and my proper ovary as a result of there was a giant cyst on it.

After the surgical procedure, the physician mentioned that my appendix had most likely ruptured in some unspecified time in the future previously, inflicting the cancer to unfold.

I spent 5 days in Manchester’s Christie Hospital earlier than coming dwelling to relaxation.

But six months later, in April, I returned to hospital for main surgical procedure – this time a nine-hour operation to take away my spleen, gallbladder, abdomen and one other ovary.

They additionally scraped my liver and crammed my stomach cavity with a sizzling chemical fluid to destroy the cancer cells. I was very terrified of how chemotherapy would have an effect on me as a result of I had by no means heard of it being executed earlier than.

Jan with coffee

I have scans and blood checks each six months to verify the cancer does not come again (Photo: Ian McCluskey)

When I opened my eyes after surgical procedure, I instantly noticed a giant scar on my breast right down to my pubic bone. I may hardly bear to have a look at him, and I can be very unhappy if I touched him. After having my abdomen eliminated, I felt like my abdomen was like a pumpkin head.

I spent two weeks within the hospital recovering, and through that point I could not eat a lot.

Fortunately, all of my procedures cleared up the cancer, but I am nonetheless on remedy that I will probably be on for the remainder of my life.

I now have scans and blood checks each six months to verify the cancer does not come again. I am affected by excessive fatigue but I really feel stronger for what I have been by way of and I am grateful to have the help of Phil and Sarah.

I know I’m in menopause now as a result of my durations have stopped, but I nonetheless do not know which of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing are literally attributable to this and that are associated to the cancer.

I nonetheless cannot imagine that every one these years I thought I was going by way of menopause, I was really recognized with a very rare type of cancer.

So now I’m telling my story to boost consciousness of PMP and the help I’ve obtained from the Pseudomyxoma Survivor Charity. Because of them, I met a complete community of survivors like myself.

Further symptoms of PMP embrace abnormalities of the stomach and peritoneum, stomach swelling, and stomach ache. If you may have symptoms like mine, ignore them or write them down for a change!

Often ladies attempt to keep on as ordinary after they really feel sick or really feel a distinction of their physique, particularly if they’re at an age the place they assume they’re going by way of menopause.

However, I will show that it doesn’t matter what you assume, it is all the time greatest to get a second opinion from a medical skilled.

As advised to Rachel Tompkins

Have a story to share? Get in contact by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk.

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