Abnormal Bleeding Led Her to Discover Cervical Cancer
Ms Ng Wei Yee, a stage 2B cervical cancer survivor from SJMC shares how she first found out about her cancer and how she received treatment for it
Suffering from long bouts of abnormal blood flow after her periods concerned Ms Ng Wei Yee. After consulting her family GP, he suggested that she do a Pap smear and an ultrasound since it has been 2-3 years since her last Pap smear.
When the report results came out, abnormal cells were detected. While abnormal cells present in the cervix may be cause for concern, they do not indicate cancer. Hence with the advice of her GP, Ms Ng decided to wait for a few months before redoing her Pap smear to see if the results returned normal. Otherwise, she decided she would remove her uterus entirely just as a precautionary measure later in the year.
However, as months passed, her period flow had increased and lasted for longer. After her period, there would be some blood flow that never seemed to end as well. Ms Ng also felt her stamina and body was weaker and she would feel dizzy at times.
In order to investigate further, her husband suggested they visit a gynaecologist to determine the cause of the issue. Dr Vigneswaren Ponnudurai, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) shared that when Ms Ng presented herself to him, he noted a growth in her cervix and advised her to be admitted to the hospital.
Confirming the cancer diagnosis
Dr Vigneswaren Ponnodurai, Consultant Obstetric and Gynaecologist at SJMC
Ms Ng received blood transfusion to correct the anemia due to the prolonged vaginal bleeding she had experienced. Dr Vigneswaren then performed a biopsy and staging of her cancer. As the biopsy report came out in the next few days, Ms Ng was diagnosed with stage 2B cervical cancer.
When she received the news, she remained surprisingly calm. She attributes this calmness to her faith as a Christian because she didn’t want to blame but to accept the diagnosis and try to get better. As she was a mother to 2 young children, a 12 year old daughter and 11 year old son, she didn’t know how to break the news to them. “I need to stay calm because I’m their mother and I want them to see hope when they look at me,” Ms Ng said as she recalls her daughter crying when she was wheeled into the ward that fateful night itself.
Undergoing treatments for cervical cancer
To help Ms Ng regain hope to fight, her gynaecologist, Dr Vigneswaren encouraged her to face this cancer head on and to complete the treatment. Ms Ng was then referred to SJMC Consultant Oncologist, Dr Matin Mellor Abdullah who then scheduled Ms Ng for 25 sessions of radiotherapy, 3 courses of brachytherapy and 5 courses of chemotherapy to treat her cancer.
While most of us are familiar with radiotherapy & chemotherapy, brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation used to treat certain types of cancers. A more targeted radiation can be delivered to the site of the tumour, reducing the risk of harm done to healthy tissues nearby. For this to be done, general anaesthesia has to be administered to the patient prior to the treatment.
The idea of needing general anaesthesia for brachytherapy & having to experience the known side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy scared Ms Ng. However, she chose to brave through those fears. Armed with information given by the doctors and nurses, she wanted to stay alive for her family. “Although my body was weak with anaemia and I had no appetite at all for any food, I would force myself to eat. I needed the energy to undergo the treatment and get better” she recalls.
Positive results from cervical cancer treatment
Ms Ng’s experience of side effects was thankfully manageable despite having some less-than-ideal days. Dr Matin had also prescribed her with some medication to manage the side effects she was experiencing. Despite her fear and fatigue, she was able pull through all her cancer therapy sessions. It was also thanks to her strong faith that she was able to find courage to continue her cancer journey.
The good news came in October, when results from the CT scan showed the tumour had reduced in size. By the time she underwent her 3rd course of brachytherapy, the tumour had almost disappeared. In total, she underwent 2 months of treatment and was in remission by then.
Living a cancer-free life
“Looking back to the days battling cancer, those days were hard. However, I told myself I wanted to be healthy, to live well and continue to attend more of my children’s graduation ceremonies,” shared Ms Ng. She now lives a healthier lifestyle and keeps to a strict diet in hopes to avoid relapse.
Ms Ng encourages her fellow cancer fighters to not lose hope. “Sickness or cancer is not the end of everything, there is always hope. Don't give up too fast and continue to fight.” For those who feel that the fear of relapse or memories haunting them, Ms Ng shares her personal tip is to let go of the past and move forward to a better, healthier and more meaningful life.
More than 10 years later, Ms Ng still visits Dr Vigneswaren on a 6 monthly basis for a gynaecological review & pap smear. "Prevention is the only way I can think of. Therefore it is advisable to visit a gynaecologist whom you are comfortable with regularly," advises Dr Vigneswaren.