My Personal Journey with Uterine Cancer
Kat Sanford | August 15, 2023
PART ONE: The Diagnosis
If you have lived long enough, you know life has this knack for throwing curveballs when you least expect them, right? I mean, one moment, you're cruising along, and the next, you're faced with a reality you never saw coming. I'll never forget the day life tossed me that curveball – the day I was referred to a gynecological oncologist. Yep, you read that right! Oncologist as in "cancer" doctor.
Flashback to earlier this year (April 2023). I had just sat down to dinner at a restaurant with my family when I noticed a missed call from my gynecologist. I was waiting to hear from her about my biopsy results and an issue with my Estrogen patch, but I was surprised she was calling me after hours. That's when my heart sank. In today's busy medical practices, most doctors don't call their patients after hours unless the news is urgent or bad.
So I excused myself and went outside to return her call. Standing on the sidewalk by the curbside pick-up, I heard, "Based on your biopsy results, I am referring you to an oncologist to discuss a hysterectomy."
In that split second, my world went on pause. It was like someone hit the mute button on reality, and all I could hear was that word echoing in my mind. Oncologist? Me? It felt like all the air had been sucked out of my lungs. The rest of the doctor's words became a distant buzz as I tried to wrap my head around what was happening.
But in true sassy Kat fashion, I responded to the doctor with something like, "Well, I'm not using my uterus, so....okay," and then I promptly burst into tears. On the sidewalk. In front of Outback Steakhouse. By myself.
My doctor was great. She reassured me that she was sending me to the best oncologist for gynecology in the area and that the referral did not mean I had cancer. Even though I didn't hear "You have cancer." that day, I still felt afraid and worried.
NOTE: My diagnosis was ATYPICAL HYPERPLASIA (ENDOMETRIOID INTRAEPHITHELIAL NEOPLASIA), which was discovered through an endometrium biopsy.
But you know what? Somewhere between shock and fear, a spark ignited in me. I decided this diagnosis wouldn't be the end of my story - it was just the beginning of a chapter I hadn't planned on writing. Call it stubbornness or sheer determination, but I wouldn't let the possibility of cancer or a hysterectomy dictate my life. And so began the journey that has been equal parts tears and triumphs, fear and fight.
I'm inviting you to step into the journey with me. We'll talk about the endless research, questions for my medical team, the incredible support system I rallied behind me, and the unexpected self-awareness I discovered. This blog series is about peeling back the layers of what it's like to be facing a possible cancer diagnosis and the before, during, and after stages of a hysterectomy, beyond the medical jargon. Spoiler alert: I did decide that having a hysterectomy was the best option for me, and I underwent a Laparoscopic Assisted Total Hysterectomy in July.
I'll share the medical side and the emotional and mental rollercoaster. Let's face it; medical challenges aren't just physical - they affect your heart, mind, and spirit. I'll also share the steps I took to prepare for surgery and what I have done to make recovery easier.
I will keep it real and be open about my experiences and feelings. By opening up about my experiences, I hope to support you and other women facing the unknown regarding gynecological cancer, hysterectomies, and menopause.
Life threw me a curveball, but guess what? I swung back, and I am still swinging. This blog isn't just about my journey. It's about helping you deal with your curveball. It's about empowering you and letting you know you are not alone.
So, stay tuned for the next installment in the series as I share more about my official diagnosis and details on my first appointment with the gynecological oncologist.
Until then...BE WELL!
Kat Sanford is a coach and multi-talented entrepreneur who celebrated her 54th birthday one week after her hysterectomy. She also is a Hashimoto's warrior who is on a mission to live her second act better than her first and help other women do the same.