'I was going down waterslides in Turkey without realising there was cancer everywhere'

Hancock now wants to warn others about the symptoms of endometrial cancer. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)
Hancock now wants to warn others about the symptoms of endometrial cancer. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)

A mum wants to raise awareness of the symptoms of endometrial cancer after being diagnosed with the disease.

Michelle Hancock, 32, a carer, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, had never heard of endometrial cancer, which usually starts in the lining of the womb and is most common in post-menopausal women.

Hancock says her symptoms, heavy bleeding between periods and weakness, first started in June 2022 after returning from a holiday to Turkey

She had recently had a clear smear test, so doctors initially believed it was "probably fibroids", but carried out a blood test and ultrasound to double check.

While smear tests are not used to screen for endometrial cancer, results sometimes show signs of an abnormal endometrium, prompting further tests.

Following the ultrasound Hancock was told she had stage four endometrial cancer which had metastasised to her lungs and lymph nodes in her belly.

Michelle Hancock during her holiday to Turkey in May 2022, whilst unaware she had cancer. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)
Michelle Hancock during her holiday to Turkey in May 2022, whilst unaware she had cancer. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)

“It just came out of nowhere really," she says of her diagnosis. "I was in shock because it was cancer, and I had no clue what type of cancer it was.

“I’d never heard of it – it’s usually an older women's cancer.

“But it’s not found in younger women until the later stages because they’re not looking for it and the symptoms are easily missed."

Following her diagnosis, Hancock says things seemed to progress really quickly.

"At the end of July I had a phone call saying it was inoperable and they were going to do six rounds of palliative chemo to extend my life," she explains.

Hancock was offered palliative chemotherapy, hormone treatment and an operation on her stomach, which cleared all the tumours apart from in one lung .

Then in October 2023 she underwent an operation to clear the lung metastasis too.

Hancock had six rounds of chemotherapy. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)
Hancock had six rounds of chemotherapy. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)

Incredibly in January she Hancock had a clear CT and PET scan and, against the odds, was told she was in remission.

Now she says she’ll be monitored for the next five years and is still getting used to life following her cancer journey.

“[The chemo] worked really well and I’ve now had two clear scans, but it was never meant to go to clear in the first place," she explains.

“I’m fine up until scans are due and then the ‘scanxiety’ sets in - at one point I wouldn’t make plans more than two weeks in advance.

“I never knew I was going to get a clear scan so now it’s almost like waiting for recurrence,” she continues.

“I'm mostly positive but feel like I'm waiting for bad news, after all in the May I was in Turkey going down waterslides without realising there was cancer everywhere."

Hancock pictured with her son. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)
Hancock pictured with her son. (Michelle Hancock/SWNS)

Hancock is telling her story in the hope it will encourage other young women to learn the warning signs.

"It [endometrial cancer] is affecting more and more younger people, but they don't know about it - none of my friends had heard about it,” she explains.

“Cramping, breathlessness, bleeding in-between periods and any abnormal discharge are all symptoms," she says.

“Family history of endometrial cancer and a family history of bowel cancer can be a link to this cancer as well.”

According to Valentina Milanova, women's health expert and founder of gynaecological health company and virtual women's health clinic Daye endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the inner lining of the uterus, called the endometrium.

It is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. The cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body if not detected and treated early.

Endometrial cancer is most common in people who've gone through menopause - and the average age of menopause is 51.

The most common signs and symptoms of endometrial cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, especially after menopause

  • Pelvic pain

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Unintended weight loss

Milanova says there are some major risk factors for endometrial cancer including:

  • Being over the age of 50 and especially after menopause

  • Obesity, which leads to higher oestrogen levels

  • Never giving birth

  • Irregular ovulation and menstrual cycles, such as from PCOS

  • Family history of endometrial or colorectal cancer

  • Prior diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer

  • Use of oestrogen-only hormone therapy after menopause

Endometrial cancer is usually detected through procedures such as:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound to look for abnormalities in the uterine lining

  • Hysteroscopy to visually examine the inside of the uterus

  • Endometrial biopsy to remove a tissue sample and check for cancer cells

It's important to note that a cervical smear test, which screens for cervical cancer, does not reliably detect endometrial cancer.

For more information about endometrial cancer visit Cancer Research UK.

Additional reporting SWNS.