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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Branwen Jones & Katie Williams

Mum diagnosed with cancer after she was told symptoms were due to the menopause

A cancer patient has spoken out and said that she feels women's healthcare has been "overlooked" after getting a cancer diagnosis.

For years Beverley 'Bev' Hewitt knew 'something was not right and in July 2023, she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, which is also known as womb (uterus) cancer. She is currently receiving treatment stage three C of the cancer.

As is stands, there is currently no routine screenings for endometrial cancer, unlike cervical screening, or 'smear tests'. While smear tests use a swab of the cervix, endometrial cancer can be detected through a scan of the womb, a biopsy, or blood tests.

READ NEXT- East Lothian mum tells of moment doctor told her baby wouldn't survive

As Wales Online reports, one of the main things that can increase your chance of getting womb cancer is having a high level of a hormone called oestrogen according to the NHS. But you might also be more likely to get womb cancer if you have diabetes, a family history of bowel, ovarian, or womb cancer, or inherited a rare gene that causes Lynch syndrome.

Fewer than five per cent of people know they have Lynch syndrome while there is an estimated 175,000 people who have it. Bev from Rhondda Cynon Taf in South Wales, is now urging that more needs to be done to ensure that there is a routine screening and that women are made aware that the cause of the cancer could derive from genetics.

The 56-year-old said: "I knew that something wasn’t right a good couple of years ago.

"It started off with everyone putting it down to the menopause. I was about 46 when the symptoms started and I was given the Mirena coil to deal with the menopause but there was still something wrong."

But when she went for a scan on her womb two years ago, they found no detection of abnormalities.

She said: "Then last year I was getting a spot of bleeding and wasn't feeling all too good. I went for another test.

"When I returned to get the results two weeks later the hospital was packed and my husband waited for me in the car. I told him: 'This is not looking good, I am the last one waiting'. I went into the room. The doctor said: ' Do you know why you are here?' and I said: 'Yes, are the results back?' and he said: 'Yes'. I said: 'you’ve found something haven’t you?' and he said: 'Yes, I’m sorry to say you have cancer'.

"I had been mentally preparing for this for a while. This year I knew they were going to find something and I was right. I had told my daughters for years and years that they had been missing something. This has been overlooked for a lot of women. I’m so angry about it because at the end of the day this could be genetic so it doesn’t just affect me – it could affect my children and grandchildren. I just want to save my children and grandchildren’s lives."

Bev's husband helped shave her head (Bev Hewitt/Wales Online)

Bev has undergone several treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy since she was diagnosed. She said she wants to remain positive and made the decision before she started her chemotherapy treatment to have her hair shaved off with the aid of her husband, Anthony, and their four children and 12 grandchildren by her side.

"I’ve been fine about it but it has been hard for my husband and for the kids," she said. "I’m very easy going and mentally strong – I have rarely cried over it. You can go either way about it – either roll up into a ball or just carry on with life because it’s not just for me, I’m doing it for my kids and my grandchildren. I’m 56 and I want to live.

"I am tired after treatment – it's a feeling you can't explain really. I'm always in bed after treatment and can't see much of my grandchildren due to the fact that I'm vulnerable and they could potentially be bringing something in. That was especially difficult during Christmas.

"I decided to shave my hair off so I could control the cancer before it started controlling me. I wanted all my family to be there because I didn’t want them to see me one day without any hair and I also didn’t want to go through that process of losing my hair in chunks. I wanted to deal with it and I wanted my family to be there. I love my hair – it has always been something I’ve been proud of. I look in the mirror and I miss my hair. I miss being me."

Knowing how much she loves her hair, Bev's eldest daughter, 37-year-old Jodie Bartlett, has launched a GoFundMe page so that they can buy a wig that is designed for individuals going through chemotherapy. But these cost a pretty penny, according to Jodie, who has done extensive research into these wigs, they can cost around £1,600 and upwards.

Jodie and the family were aiming to reach £2,000 but within 24 hours of launching the GoFundMe page they had hit target. As of Friday, February 3, the fundraising has reached £2,315. Jodie explained that she started the fundraising in order to help her mother get a part of her identity back.

"I am setting this up to make my mother happy and to feel herself again," she said. "Anyone who knows my mother knows she loved her hair – her hair was her armour. She has been so brave and strong but she just wants to feel like her again.

"The wigs we have in mind let the person sleep in it and wash it – you don't actually feel like you are wearing a wig. The response we have received through the GoFundMe page has been overwhelming. It's so great to see our community support our family, but especially our mam, like this."

As Wales Online reports, a Welsh Government spokesman said: "We encourage people to come forward with any concerns about cancer and we are investing heavily in new diagnostic equipment and the training of additional diagnostic clinicians. As part of the recently-announced cancer improvement plan we are rolling out rapid diagnostic centres to provide a referral option for people presenting to the NHS with unclear symptoms but the GP suspects cancer."


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