- Kelly Pendry, 42, visited a doctor for heavy bleeding after a pregnancy in 2016.
- Five years later, she was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer, the BBC reported.
- She cannot have the operation in the UK but hopes to travel to the US for medical care.
When Kelly Pendry, 42, was diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer in November 2021, she said a nurse told her “not to make any plans for Christmas,” according to the BBC.
More than a year and six rounds of chemotherapy later, Pendry is still looking for treatment options. The mother-of-two told the BBC she wonders if things would have been different if she had been diagnosed earlier.
Pendry began experiencing pain and heavy bleeding in 2016, after the birth of her second child. She told the news outlet that her doctors attributed her symptoms to her recent pregnancy and suggested she take the birth control pill or get an IUD to regulate her cycle.
She said another practitioner prescribed her antidepressants for her symptoms.
“I felt like a drama queen,” Pendry said, according to the BBC. “I felt like I was overdoing it, I felt like ‘is this a bit in my head, is this stupid?’
Despite bleeding more days than not, Pendry had to wait five years to get an accurate diagnosis. At the time, her cancer was terminal.
She was close to having her uterus removed, but the pandemic delayed her care
In April 2020, Pendry saw a doctor who finally confirmed her symptoms.
“He said, ‘How do you even manage,'” she told the BBC. “I said, ‘I’m not.’
Pendry said at the exit that she spent several days “doubled over in pain” and also gained weight without explanation. She said the doctor felt lumps in her abdomen, signaling that something was wrong.
Later that year, she said she was diagnosed with benign fibroids, or non-cancerous growths in her uterus. Doctors recommended her uterus be removed entirely through a hysterectomy, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused numerous delays in appointments.
By 2021 it was too late for that operation. She was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer called uterine leiomyosarcoma in November and was told surgery was not an option due to her terminal status.
This cancer affects almost 2,000 people in the US each year
Leiomyosarcoma of the uterus is relatively rare compared to other forms of uterine cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, leiomyosarcoma (LMS) can grow in the intestines, stomach, bladder, or uterus — any hollow organ with smooth muscle tissue.
Compared to other cancers that affect the uterus, LMS is often more aggressive and more difficult to treat, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 6 out of every 1 million Americans are diagnosed with LMS of the uterus each year—that’s nearly 2,000 people a year.
Some patients experience no symptoms when the cancer first develops, making it even more difficult to treat in its later stages. According to the National Cancer Institute, symptoms of LMS can include pain, unintentional weight loss, nausea and vomiting, and lumps under the skin.
Pendry hopes to have the surgery in the US
A year after completing chemotherapy, Pendry told the BBC she still experiences fatigue, aches and hot flashes as a side effect of the hormone inhibitors designed to stop the cancer growing.
Although she cannot get a hysterectomy in the UK, she is hoping to buy more time to have her uterus removed in the US.
Pendry said she has been stable for a year, but knows her cancer could progress at any time. Her husband, Michael, is planning a 180-mile charity run in the hope of raising money for her surgery in the US.
The US healthcare system allows patients to pay for elective surgery out of pocket if they can afford it, unlike the UK’s NHS. Pendry’s family is aiming to raise around $60,000 to pay for her hysterectomy overseas, according to the BBC.