‘I felt like a drama queen’: Mother issues warning after cancer mistaken for heavy period
A mother who was living with an undiagnosed terminal cancer is urging women to seek further investigation if they have health concerns.
Kelly Pendry, 42, from Ewloe, North Wales, was diagnosed with uterine leiomyosarcoma in 2021.
Her initial symptoms of “heavy, prolonged periods” and a “lot of pain” began in 2016, reports BBC.
Leiomyosarcoma is a rare cancer affecting 600 people in the UK each year.
According to the bone and soft tissue cancer charity, Sarcoma UK, leiomyosarcoma develops in the smooth muscle cells, which are sometimes called involuntary muscles because they cause the organs to contract without our control.
Involuntary muscles are most commonly found in the limbs, the abdomen, the uterus, and the retroperitoneum (which is found deep in the abdomen and pelvis, behind the abdominal lining).
Common symptoms include a lump or swelling in the soft tissue under the skin. For uterine leiomyosarcoma, symptoms may include vaginal bleeding post-menopause, vaginal bleeding between periods, unusual vaginal bleeding and pain around the pelvis or stomach.
Leiomyosarcoma affects around 600 people in the UK per year.
The mother of two said that she was told by a doctor that her body was experiencing side effects post-pregnancy. Elsewhere, she was advised to consider different contraception and was prescribed antidepressants.
“I felt like I was a drama queen,” she said. “I felt like I was overthinking it, I felt like ‘is this in my head a bit, is this stupid?’”
Pendry was diagnosed with benign fibroids in November 2020, but the pandemic delayed her surgery.
By June 2021, Kelly said she was bleeding every day and “looked nine months pregnant”. It was around this time that a doctor mentioned the possibility of a sarcoma.
After a lung biopsy, Kelly was diagnosed with stage four and terminal cancer.
“I was told by a nurse not to make plans for Christmas,” she said.
She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy to maximise the time she has to live. One year on from the treatment, Kelly experiences side effects including tiredness, hot flushes, aches and pains.
At present, her husband is raising money for Kelly to get access to treatment in the US, which they believe could extend the time she has to live.
On 16 March, Michael Pendry will run from where they live in Ewloe, North Wales to where the couple met in Hanham, Bristol. The run is approximately 180 miles and he will be running it across four days. At the time of writing, he has raised nearly £60,000 ($72,000) out of a goal of £75,000 (£90,000).
In a statement, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board told the news outlet: “We’re very sorry to hear about Ms Pendry’s experience and would encourage her to contact her GP practice, which is an independent contractor of the health board, so her concerns can be investigated.”