Jody Glynn Patrick
How Did We Find Out?
I suppose I felt something was "off" for over a month before seeing a doctor. Postmenopausal women aren't told this, but if you notice a "slick" feeling when wiping after urinating, that's probably not a good thing. But it isn't usually a signal to run to the doctor, especially when it is sporadic.
Warning gents: TMI. But ladies, you might need to know this. The slick feeling was soon accompanied by a very, very light tinge of pink. It wasn't a blood color or any consistency really. (And who looks when they wipe? Usually not me.) But if you ever do see it, watch for it. I tried to explain it to the doctor this way: "It is sporadic. Maybe once on one day, and then not again for a week. It's not tied to exercise or time of day. It's completely unpredictable when or why, and it doesn't look like blood, but I think it might be a sign of an injury or infection." You need to know this is a sign of uterine endometrial fluid when it is paired with that slick feeling.
I had an upcoming trip planned to Madison, so I went to see my assigned PA (doctor) on May 19 before our May 21 departure, thinking I had an asymptomatic U.T.I. (which would be a first -- usually UTIs drop me to my knees in pain). She ordered a urine culture and I bought some over-the-counter UTI numbing medication in case it flared up on the trip. It didn't.
When we returned in June, the doctor's office said the culture was negative for infection but showed moderate blood levels. I was told to go to the clinic for a contrast cat scan, which was done June 7th. I also was given a referral to a urologist, with the soonest appointment available in late July. I later called my doctor for the scan results, since she never called me, and was informed that I needed more testing; the cat scan had indicated endometrial fluid buildup (again, ladies, you seriously don't want that result). So another procedure was ordered.
On June 14th, I had a transvaginal ultrasound, which is about as pleasant as it sounds. A wand with a camera is inserted throughout the uterus, and the tech snaps images. I counted, praying it would be over by the time she did about 15 images. She stopped at 45. Bad sign? Then I noticed, while dressing, that the screen with thumbnail images had a few marked in red. I called the doctor for the result (she rarely calls me, usually it's up to me to follow up, which is really annoying). The cat scan revealed a 15mm endometrial "stripe". Post menopausal women should not have this thickening of the endometrial wall. It should, at most, be 2-4mm. This indicates cancer. I decided to see my gynecologist at this point, so he could take over any further tests.
The earliest possible appointment was June 30. Dr. Suhrer (pictured above) was able to collect (don't ask how) a sample of the endometrial fluid and to take a tissue biopsy. He sent it to a lab in Tampa for testing.
We didn't get the results of that biopsy until July 12, when his office called and asked me to come to talk to him personally. They also said my husband could come too, in violation of their "no visitors at all" policy. So we went there prepared for bad news, which we got: His diagnosis was uterine cancer. Dr. Suhrer referred me to M.D. Anderson to an oncology gyno for treatment -- at the best cancer center in Florida. It's headquarters are in Texas, but M.D. Anderson has a branch here attached to Baptist Hospital. So several months after the symptoms began, we had finally had a diagnosis. And a referral for treatment, which Dr. Suhrer had sent over that very day.
I called the clinic and asked for the first available appointment, and will go, tomorrow, July 15, to see Dr. Jennifer Whitmore, to learn what the plan will be. Dr. Suhrer said to expect, at the very least, a full hysterectomy, so I'd like it scheduled as soon as possible. That's all I know as of today. We don't know the extent of the cancer; only that the biopsy has shown it to be the cause of the symptoms we've seen so far.
More will be posted after the visit tomorrow.