A woman suffering from severe back pain discovered that she had cancer in her uterus after doctors had previously misdiagnosed her symptoms as the result of another condition.
Fiona Williams, 46, from the town of Wishaw in Scotland, became concerned about her symptoms in 2019 after she started experiencing constant pain all over her body and decided to seek medical help, The Sun reported.
Doctors eventually diagnosed her with fibromyalgia—a condition that causes widespread pain, sleep problems and fatigue, which, in many cases, leads to emotional and mental distress.
But the real source of the woman’s pain was only revealed by subsequent tests that doctors carried out for another condition.
Williams, a mother of three, had experienced heavy and painful periods for many years—problems that were linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of male sex hormones known as androgens. The condition is named after the numerous small cysts that form in the ovaries of some—but not all—women with the disorder.
These tests revealed the presence of growths in her womb—which she later had surgery to remove—that doctors suspected were fibroids. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb.
During the surgery, Williams watched on a screen next to her, saying she could see a “large lump” that was “very veiny and looked quite fiery.”
The growths were sent to a lab for further analysis and more than two months later, in June 2021, doctors diagnosed Williams with endometrial cancer, likely explaining some of the symptoms she had experienced over the past years.
Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus. Its symptoms can include pain in the back, pelvis and stomach, in addition to abnormal bleeding.
Doctors told Williams that her cancer was in stage three, having spread from the womb to the ovaries and omentum—the fatty tissue that secures the intestines and other abdominal organs in place.
After her diagnosis, Williams underwent two surgeries, including a hysterectomy to remove her womb and three rounds of chemotherapy.
“They said my outlook would be good if I can get chemo and my operation which I have done,” Williams told The Sun.
Williams had previously been told by doctors that her period issues were the result of a series of miscarriages caused by polycystic ovaries and that she would never be able to have children.
“We were absolutely devastated but resigned ourselves to the fact we would never be able to have our own baby,” Williams told the Mirror.
But despite this, she went on to have three children, although during one of the births, which involved an emergency C-section, she had to be resuscitated twice.