A woman who was diagnosed with womb cancer in 2010 has set up a charity to help raise awareness after being unable to match her symptoms with the disease because of limited available information on the rare cancer type.
Only two days ago, she lost a close friend to womb cancer; a sad experience that has strengthened her resolve to raise awareness for the relatively rare disease, now becoming more common. Before her diagnosis, 56 year old Debra Parry, knew nothing about womb cancer, as there had not been any awareness campaigns about it , neither did she know anyone who had been diagnosed with it, and there was no information about it on the Internet.
More importantly, she didn’t fit the risk criteria. This cancer tends to be mostly associated with post menopausal women in their 60s, whereas she was 50, hadn’t yet gone through the menopause and was described by doctors as being ‘young, fit and healthy’. ”It was a shock for me and I think for them too in some respects. I was told my case was random”, she says.
The illness is normally linked to post-menopausal women also causes abnormal bleeding in some unusual cases
“I thought they [my symptoms] could be hormonal changes related to the menopause, but I was diagnosed with womb cancer,” she said.
“It was a bit of a shock to be told that’s what it is. Prior to her diagnosis, Debra had a hysterectomy at Queen’s Hospital in Rumford. Following the discovery of a tumor blocking the cervix, the tumor was aborted because of concerns it might be cervical cancer. A hysterectomy- the removal of the womb to prevent the cancer spreading followed- making her feel “incredibly lucky”, and wants to help others by spreading awareness of the illness.
Womb cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and is, and now the most common gynecological cancer with over 8,000 new cases diagnosed each year. ”Annual cases of it have increased since I was diagnosed and there is no screening programme for it. Women don’t realize that pap smears aren’t designed to detect womb cancer and so they think that a negative result clears them of having cancer at all”. While it’s true that some cases of womb cancer do show up on a smear test, particularly if the cancer has already spread to the cervix, it’s important that women keep pushing for answers if abnormal symptoms persist after a negative smear test result. By abnormal symptoms I mean bleeding after the menopause, bleeding between periods, even spotting or discharge can be a symptom”.
Debbie from Dagenham, added : ”In 2011 I became involved in supporting women online via Facebook. As a result I’ve got to know other women of all ages who’ve been through or are going through womb cancer, some only in their twenties. Sadly we lost another one of our friends in her forties to a recurrence of womb cancer only yesterday (Sunday 14th Feb)(interview conducted yesterday 15th Feb) and this has made us even more determined to make Action on Womb Cancer a successful charity. Debbie Vince was one of the ladies I came to know online and who is now a very good friend and she is very much involved in founding Action on Womb Cancer too.
The charity will be based in Leeds because that’s where Dr Nic Orsi, – a Research Fellow & Pathologist at the prestigious University of Leeds- and his team are based. It was Dr Orsi’s idea to collaborate with womb cancer patients to set up a womb cancer charity, and Debbie was keen on the idea, though admits it was quite some time later before she was in a position to finally say yes to joining him in this venture. Dr Orsi suggested teaming up to launch a charity, and with four others, including medical professionals and cancer survivors, Action On Womb Cancer was born.
Highlighting further demises in her life, she makes reference to the loss of her father, making her entire story all the more touching.
”In between times my father was very ill and, sadly, we lost him to cancer in October 2014. He was only 74, he didn’t live to see me get the all clear, but this charity is as much for him as for the women it’s aimed at because he supported this cause as much as the rest of my family do. The rest of the team at Leeds are Dr Michele Cummings, Postdoctoral Researcher, along with Mr Richard Hutson, Gynecological Surgeon.
”My daughter, Annette Parry is a freelance designer & illustrator, she designed the logo for Action on Womb Cancer.
She has been a huge support to me throughout and gives freely of her time and talents for the womb cancer cause. My mother, Marie Parry, has also been hugely supportive. They both hate having their photo taken as much as I do, so I’m respecting their choice while acknowledging that I’m indebted to them both”.
Debbie who works in the maths department of a very large secondary school which she describes as ” very successful”, but refuses to name without their permission(the school is on half term) does all her charity work outside of my working hours, including evenings, weekends, school holidays. secondary school .
”I was very lucky to be able to return to a job I love because my colleagues were very supportive. I was diagnosed early because of obvious symptoms – once I stopped thinking they were hormone changes due to my age! I had a high grade tumor and was told to expect radiotherapy but, in the end, and after a complication that had me in re-suss two weeks after surgery due to a blood vessel opening up and me bleeding out (thankfully, as it turned out, as bleeding into the pelvis would have meant opening me up to stem the bleed) the cancer hadn’t spread so surgery was the only treatment. I live in hope that it never comes back.
“We have three aims, Debbie passionately says; – firstly we want to raise awareness of womb cancer,” explained Debra.
“It’s also to support women who are going through it, to discuss their experiences and findings. And eventually it will also be to fund research.” Her initial aim is to raise £3,000 to make and distribute leaflets, posters and provide support for women going through the illness. Debbie told The eye of media that they have now raised £1,000, thanks to crowd funding, and have £2,000 to go.She said it was important for women not to be shy in getting their symptoms checked out.
“People shouldn’t be embarrassed about coming forward – or they could die from embarrassment.”
[videe_widget width=413 height=310 autoplay=false loop=false volume=10 thumbnail=http://video1source1.videe.tv/pcovers/157626157.jpg src=http://video1source1.videe.tv/pvideo/cd9cc5a9e3fe66805dae8de84d57ab66.mp4 mute=false async=true load-settings=true load-playlist=true background=false videoId=5588]