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Melanie Cooke

Uterine cancer - Stage IA

This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.

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Video: Melanie Cooke's Story

Melanie Cooke's Story

No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results.

Overview

My story

I was diagnosed with carcino-sarcoma of the uterus, a rare type of uterine cancer, when I was 58 years old. At the time, I was done with menopause, so I was surprised when I noticed some spotting. Because I was training heavily for two triathlon races, I was consuming a lot of soy, and I thought that perhaps the unusually high estrogen intake (soy contains estrogen) was somehow responsible for the problems.

As I continued training, I was feeling miserable. My swim times were becoming slower. I knew something was wrong, but never suspected cancer (oddly, I felt something in my throat, probably due to hormonal changes). I called my doctor, who referred me to a gynecologist. I had an endometrial biopsy, and then participated in a triathlon.

When I came home after the competition, the results of the endometrial biopsy had come back. I had cancer.

Fortunately, the disease was still in the early stages—stage IA at diagnosis—but rigorous treatment was needed to ensure that the cancer would not spread. I was referred to a gynecologic oncologist locally, who wanted to operate immediately. I was interested in robotic surgery because it is less invasive; I wanted to be in the best shape possible to handle the chemotherapy that would follow surgery. So I went to a second clinic in my area, where I was able to have robotic surgery.

After that procedure, however, the care I was receiving was unsatisfactory, and I decided to look for another place where I could receive the chemotherapy portion of my treatment. I was seeing a naturopathic clinician to help prepare for chemotherapy, and she recommended that I call Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). The timings were tight because chemotherapy needed to begin within six weeks of the surgery.

After I decided to be treated at CTCA, my oncologist there called experts across the country to consult about my treatment. That approach gave me such peace of mind. When you have a rare, difficult-to-treat cancer, you want a doctor who is going to take whatever time is needed to find out the best treatment approach.

My decision to be treated at CTCA was also influenced by the availability of naturopathic medicine. These complementary approaches can help lessen the side effects of treatment. Chemotherapy can be brutal, and having ready access to a naturopathic clinician, as CTCA provides, was a huge benefit. In the day or so following each chemotherapy treatment, I usually felt terrible. But I would try to get to the gym to exercise, and then by the following weekend, I was riding by bike, feeling as if I’d never even had chemotherapy.

The staff at CTCA was incredibly supportive. They were aware of my dedication to physical fitness. I work as a fitness director at a retirement community and am a triathlete. The staff knew about this, and offered to rent a bicycle for me to use when I was at the facility for treatment. They were invested in me and in my care.

When you are coping with a cancer diagnosis, you cannot get hung up on wondering why this is happening. You have to be proactive. Cancer can be a death sentence, but you have to get past that and find out where the best place is to get treated. For me, that place was CTCA.

My last treatment was in January of 2013. I celebrated my 60th birthday recently, and am training for a big race. I completed my fastest triathlon after finishing my treatment. I know that the care I received at CTCA has contributed greatly to my recovery and continued health. 

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