- Kelly Pendry, 42, saw a doctor about heavy bleeding after her pregnancy in 2016.
- Five years later, she was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer, the BBC reported.
- She cannot have surgery in the UK but hopes to travel to the US for medical treatment.
When Kelly Pendry, 42, was diagnosed with late-stage uterine cancer in November 2021, she said a nurse told her “not to make plans for Christmas,” according to the BBC.
More than a year and six rounds of chemotherapy later, Pendry is still researching treatment options. The mum-of-two told the BBC she wonders if things would have been different if she had been diagnosed before her.
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 a contraceptive pill or get an IUD to regulate periods.
She said that another practitioner prescribed her antidepressants for her symptoms.
“I felt like I was a drama queen,” Pendry said, according to the BBC. “I felt like I was overthinking it, I felt like, ‘It’s kind of in my head, is it stupid?'”
Despite bleeding more days than not, Pendry had to wait five years to get an accurate diagnosis. By then, her cancer was terminal.
She was about to have her uterus removed, but the pandemic delayed her treatment
In April 2020, Pendry saw a doctor who finally validated her symptoms.
“He said, ‘How are you doing,'” he told the BBC. “I said, ‘I’m not.'”
Pendry told the outlet that she spent a few days “doubled over in pain” and also gained weight without explanation. She said the doctor felt lumps in her abdomen, signaling something was wrong.
That same year, she said she was diagnosed with a benign fibroid or noncancerous growths in her uterus. Doctors advised her to completely remove her uterus with a hysterectomy, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous appointment delays.
In 2021 it was too late for that surgery. In November she was diagnosed with a rare form of uterine cancer called uterine leiomyosarcoma and was told that surgery was not an option due to her terminal condition.
This cancer affects nearly 2,000 people in the United States each year
Uterine leiomyosarcoma 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 types of cancer that affect the uterus, LMS is often more aggressive and more difficult to treat, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 6 in 1 million Americans are diagnosed with LMS of the uterus each year, or nearly 2,000 people a year.
Some patients experience no symptoms when the cancer first develops, making treatment in later stages even more difficult. 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 surgery in the United States
A year after completing chemotherapy, Pendry told the BBC that he still experienced fatigue, aches and hot flashes as a side effect of hormone inhibitors meant to stop the growth of the cancer.
While she’s unable to get a hysterectomy in the UK, she hopes to buy more time to have her uterus removed in the US.
Pendry said he’s been stable for a year but knows his cancer could progress at any moment. Her husband, Michael, is planning a 180-mile charity run in hopes of raising money for her to have surgery in the United States.
The US healthcare system allows patients to pay for elective surgery out of pocket if they can afford it, contrary to the UK’s NHS. Pendry’s family aims to raise around $60,000 to pay for her overseas hysterectomy, according to the BBC.