Posted: Tue 7th Mar 2023

Flintshire mum’s warning after cancer mistaken for post pregnancy heavy periods

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Mar 7th, 2023

A Mum-of-two from Flintshire is encouraging women to push for further medical investigations if they have health concerns after her terminal cancer was left undiagnosed for several years.

Kelly Pendry, 42, from Ewloe was diagnosed with rare uterine leiomyosarcoma in 2021 but her symptoms of heavy, prolonged periods and pain began in 2016.

Kelly’s cancer was discovered after a series of misdiagnoses, despite her suffering from symptoms that included bleeding almost constantly, rapid weight gain, swollen stomach, severe headaches, and dizziness.

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.

Kelly’s symptoms were initially dismissed by doctors who told her they were normal post-pregnancy side effects.

She was prescribed anti-depressants and advised to go on contraceptive pills to alleviate the pain.

But despite the prescriptions, Kelly’s health deteriorated, and she was left in agonising pain and with a swollen stomach.

She felt fobbed off by doctors and was afraid to go back to the GP as she had been dismissed so many times.

It wasn’t until April 2020 when a locum GP, who Kelly described as a “hero”, felt lumps in her abdomen and agreed that something was not right.

Speaking got the BBC, Kelly said: “For the first time someone validated something.”

“The Doctor said, ‘How are you even coping?’ I said, ‘I’m not’.”

In November 2020, Kelly was diagnosed with benign fibroids and told that a hysterectomy would be the best course of action.

However, the pandemic caused her appointments to be continually delayed, and her surgery was not able to happen.

In June 2021, Kelly found herself bleeding every day and was later diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, and sadly told she had stage four cancer, which was terminal.

“I was told by a nurse not to make plans for Christmas,” she said.

Kelly was referred to an oncologist at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool who told her he would do his best to treat her cancer, despite it being incurable.

“He asked us what we wanted, and we said time. As much time as humanly possible,” she recalled.

After undergoing six gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, Kelly lived past doctors’ predictions.

But one year on from her treatment, she still experiences side effects such as tiredness, hot flashes, aches, and pains.

Kelly’s story is a reminder of the importance of being persistent when it comes to our health and seeking further medical investigation if we have any concerns.

Kelly said she hopes that her story will help other people to demand further testing or referrals if they have concerns about their health. “We are coming around to talking about women’s health, menopause, periods. My hope is it will improve,” she said.

In a statement, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board told the BBC: “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.”

Kelly’s husband, Michael, is now looking to raise funds for her travel to the USA for surgery that they believe could extend the time she has to live.

On 16 March, Michael Pendry will run from Ewloe 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 £62,500 out of a goal of £75,000.

Michael’s funding page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-run-for-kelly?fbclid=IwAR0I5tfC2tM0L5dEfuzsmw15CGVKNCh5eheqNNKnc-vvMzO24YT-XfWsYBY

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