Karine’s battle with 2 cancers — at the same time

Woman with Husband (image by Freepik)

Karine*, a vibrant 57-year-old, never imagined that a blood stain on her underwear  would turn her life upside down. 

Having already undergone menopause, she was afraid something was amiss and decided to get it checked out immediately. Her speed in addressing the issue was pivotal as it turned out she had cancer. Not one, but two. 

Acting Fast Makes a Difference

Karine’s sense of urgency took her to her gynaecologist, who performed an ultrasound. Upon noticing an abnormality, her gynaecologist later conducted a D&C (dilation and curettage). During this procedure, the uterus is first dilated, and tissue from the uterine lining is extracted and tested to arrive at a diagnosis.

Unfortunately, the test results confirmed that cancer was present in the lining of her uterus, otherwise known as Adenocarcinoma of the uterus. 

After discussion with her gynaecologist, the decision to undergo surgery to remove her womb and both fallopian tubes was made, and she managed to get that scheduled just a week later. In medical terms, this surgery is referred to as a hysterectomy with a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (THBSO).

“Some of the people I know, especially at my age, tend to dwell in denial. They have this aversion to going for medical checks when they know something is wrong. Not going for a check means that (the cancer or illness) is not there.”

Uncovering a Hidden Threat

Pre-operative tests, including a chest X-ray, revealed an unexpected surprise — three cracked ribs from a cough she was suffering from previously. However, a deeper concern gnawed at Corinne — a fear that she could also have lung cancer. To ensure no stone was left unturned, she requested a PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography scan) to be conducted.

A Second Diagnosis

The PET scan, done the same morning, revealed a second suspicious lesion in a different location than where she expected —in her thyroid.

Within hours, Karine saw an endocrinologist who performed a biopsy which refers to the removal and testing of cells from a patient’s body, in Corrine’s case her thyroid. Later, it was confirmed that she had papillary thyroid carcinoma, and an underlying autoimmune condition (Thyroiditis). That same afternoon, an ENT surgeon confirmed the diagnosis, and a thyroidectomy was scheduled three months after her hysterectomy and THBSO procedures. With her entire thyroid removed, Karine wouldn’t experience future complications from this condition.

“Yes, it is scary. Who wouldn’t be scared? But everything was done so quickly, and that’s exactly what I want,”

The Importance of Prompt & Comprehensive Care

The week leading up to Karine’s hysterectomy and THBSO involved additional scans and blood tests, ensuring a thorough and well-coordinated treatment plan. During the surgery, further complications were discovered. Cancer had spread to the laryngeal nerve, and a benign tumour was also found. 

Following the THBSO, Karine underwent radioiodine treatment. Throughout this whirlwind journey, one thing remained constant—Karine’s positive attitude and proactive approach.

Her priority was to nip the issue in the bud as soon as possible; not only would she would be able to prevent cancer cells from spreading further, but she could also ensure a proper shot at recovery and return to her normal life.

“I have always known about my health insurance coverage, and I also know that I am covered for treatment at private hospitals, so why do I need to wait?”

Her medical bill came up to slightly over $300,000, most of which was paid for by her Integrated Shield Plan and MediSave. Though she had some out-of-pocket costs due to her IP policy’s 5% deductible, these costs were negligible for Karine, compared to getting medical attention fast.

A Message of Hope and Action

Karine’s story highlights the importance of prompt medical attention. 

Integrated Shield Plans (IP) in Singapore provide the flexibility to choose specialists and ensure faster access to necessary tests and treatment. 

Don’t wait for a wake-up call—prioritise your health and get checked if something feels off. Early detection and speedy treatment, alongside an adequate health insurance policy can significantly improve your chances of a successful recovery.

*Disclaimer: The name used in this blog article (e.g., Karine) is a pseudonym for privacy purposes. The experiences and situations described are real, and may represent the common challenges faced by many individuals.

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