Image courtesy of Kath Bebbington
Our new stats show that rising levels of obesity have contributed to a worrying rise in womb cancer cases. The numbers hit the news this morning – including the BBC and the Guardian.
Below, Kath Bebbington from Stoneclough, Greater Manchester shares her story of getting healthy and losing weight after being diagnosed and treated for womb cancer. She wants to be a role model for her children – and hopes she can encourage other women to do the same.
When you hear the word cancer your mind runs riot and I was thinking: ‘Am I going to live to see my grandchildren grow up?’ I felt sick as I didn’t know what was going on. It was as though I was in a dream.
Back in November 2013 I’d been experiencing blood loss at different times and I just put it down to menopause because, at 55, I was well into it. My daughter urged me to go and get it checked, as I’d missed my smear test earlier that year.
I continued to work through a very busy period at work as an experienced bra fitter at Debenhams Trafford, which I love. But just before Christmas I had quite a heavy bleed and knew I had to make an appointment with the doctors.
So in January 2014, I went to my GP and was examined by a lovely doctor at my surgery who referred me to Royal Bolton Hospital where I had various tests, including a biopsy. It was after the biopsy where I saw my consultant for the first time, who told me I had womb cancer.
I was devastated when I found out and cried with my husband holding my hand. He held it together thank god. We were then taken in another room to find out what would happen next.
‘I didn’t need radiotherapy or chemotherapy so I was very lucky.’
My cancer was diagnosed at the earliest stage, which was good news. I had surgery, which included removing my ovaries and cervix.
Thankfully my operation removed all my cancer and I didn’t need radiotherapy or chemotherapy – so I was very lucky. I will be having six monthly check-ups for another three years and after five years I hope to be classed as cancer free.
When I was diagnosed, I questioned myself: ‘Why me?’ I didn’t drink or smoke. And then I thought: ‘Why not me?’ Cancer doesn’t pick and choose who it wants.
It was my life’s challenge, and with my husband and family we got through it. When I hit my five years cancer free, it will be a great feeling for all of us.
‘It’s worrying to see that womb cancer rates are on the rise’
After finishing my treatment I wanted to make some changes. We don’t know what caused my cancer, but I have to admit that I was carrying a few extra pounds. So now I exercise and eat better to be healthier. I also wanted to be a role model for my family.
I’m doing Race for life again this year to help give something back to Cancer Research UK for all the help I received.
The atmosphere at Race for Life with lots of ladies together is always fantastic. I felt glad to be a part of it.
Reading some of the words on people’s backs about why they were running brought it all back to me about how important this is. My daughter’s notes said: “Running for our Mum who beat womb cancer”!
It’s worrying to see that womb cancer rates are on the rise, and although weight isn’t the only risk factor, I want to encourage other women to live healthily so that fewer women go through what I went through.
I hope that my story helps others make a change in their life.
Margaret February 24, 2023
Sugar,saturated fats and lack of activity causes obesity.
wendy July 10, 2016
I think most of today’s problems are to do with the stress of our everyday lives, yes smoking and being overweight has their part to play but trying to juggle work, home life and the traumas that go along with it I feel have a major part in the increase of such diseases. I have always tried to not stress over much at all, but on meeting and marrying my late husband I was blessed with an ever increasing amount of stress. He had cardiomyopathy which then led to a new valve and pacemakers ect ect. I have now just this morning found a discharge from my vagina and will go to the doctors asap, once I know what is happening I will inform you all on here, let’s hope it’s nothing too bad x
James Palmer May 10, 2016
You give your source for obesity data as HSCIC.
This is from their site:
” England: In 2014, 58 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men were overweight or obese. Obesity prevalence has increased from 15 per cent in 1993 to 26 per cent in 2014.”
An increase from 15% to 26% is roughly 70% which corresponds much better with the increase in cancer figures. (I realise men are included in the statistics).
Emma Clay May 6, 2016
It doesn’t seem significant – the rise in obesity and overweight combined over 20 yrs of 17%, compared with a rise of 54% of womb cancers. What exactly are classed as ‘womb’ cancers- ovarian? Cervical? Uterine? All of the above? The fact that women have got fatter, is a lovely tool to make us feel guilty about as we struggle with an obesogenic society and work more hours at home and work than our predecessors! What about stress as a cause? Or the changing patterns of how we have children, later than before, less pregnancies, more terminations, more of those chemical rather than procedural, more and different types of birth control, better abd earlier ways of diagnosing cancer…. Etc etc.
This comment is to cancer research and in no way relating to Kath. Weight loss is very challenging and I think she’s amazing. Xxx
Nick Peel May 6, 2016
Thanks for your comment. As well as keeping active, there are other things you can do to help reduce the risk of cancer. These include not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and enjoying the sun safely.
Why not try walking short local journeys instead of driving, getting the whole family together for a kickabout in the park at weekends, or cooking healthy meals together?
Small changes that fit into your day to day life are usually easier to stick to long term, so take a look at our Ten Top Tips for keeping a healthy weight, which you may find useful.
Cancer Research UK
Sarah Cross May 6, 2016
Would be good to hear what else you did to have a healthier lifestyle apart from the running? Any tips that are easily adapted to busy family life, very much appreciated?!
J Frew May 5, 2016
I to have had a total abdominal hysterectomy,bilateral salphingo-oopherectomy for endometrial cancer. I was lucky in that I didn’t require any other treatment but in Scotland it is a 6 monthly visit for 2 years to the combined gynaecological/oncology clinic with an emphasis of self referral of “symptoms” so being aware of changes/pain that develop that become persistent. I admit to being overweight, ex-smoker, but I also ticked other boxes…..young when started to menstruate, dysmenorrhoea, failed IVF but obvious side effects of treatment………so what do you blame ?
Disappointed May 5, 2016
Thank you for sharing your story. It is very disappointing that once again womb cancer is linked to obesity, there are women who are not obese, who are active with healthy lifestyles with this disease. The constant suggestion is that womb cancer sufferers are to blame which is incredibly sad and disappointing.
Harvey bear May 5, 2016
A timely reminder, that we must be more aware of the little things in life, that can impact on our health! Leading an active and healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a difficult decision, merely a commonsense approach to ensuring that one’s health isn’t unduly compromised!
From a former cancer patient, 14.5 years since diagnosis, an operation and chemotherapy – now 3 inches smaller around the waist and two stones lighter!