Lansdale, PA -- For several months in 2012, Wendy Ericsson was being treated for irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, but the treatment wasn't working.
Neither she nor her doctor could pin down the symptoms, "bloating, diarrhea/constipation, and a general feeling of being unwell, and fatigue."
When irregular cells showed up on her Pap test, a follow-up biopsy and CT scans revealed something more threatening - uterine cancer.
"The cancer was partially wrapped around my colon, explaining the GI symptoms. I was Stage 4B, the cancer was throughout my abdomen. It is a rare and aggressive type of uterine cancer, papillary serous cell," Ericsson told Action News.
Over the next 8 or 9 months, she was in and out of the hospital several times, had 6 rounds of chemotherapy, and battled an infection.
Ericsson says she felt like a "limp noodle" when it was done.
For 3 years, she was cancer-free, however, the disease came back in early 2016.
Things were looking up after 6 more rounds of chemotherapy, only for the cancer to return again early this year.
Because doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Center determined it was Fallopian tube cancer, similar to ovarian cancer, Ericsson was able to get a wider range of treatments.
Early on, Ericsson's friend Linda Wiesinger created "Wendy's Warriors" to raise money for cancer-related expenses not covered by insurance.
And her doctor recommended she contact the Foundation for Women's Cancer, which offers Survivor's Courses, conferences to help patients and their loved ones navigate the journey through what she calls "below the belt" gynecological cancers.
"It was free, and the topics looked interesting," she recalls.
The Foundation also holds the National Race for Women's Cancer in Washington, D.C, which helps fund research in all of the gynecological cancers, and supports patients and families.
Ericsson, who has a biology degree and once worked in a research lab at Fox Chase Cancer Center, says research and clinical trials are pushing extending survivorship all the time.
"My tumor was recently retested for genetic markers that were unknown at the time of my diagnosis," she points out.
She's now in a clinical trial evaluating 2 new medications against weekly chemotherapy.
The chemotherapy has been draining, and Ericsson's eyesight temporarily deteriorated, but she has no doubts about the trial's worth.
She enjoyed 33 years of marriage, two adult sons, a dog named Pepper, and a supportive church family, and this year, was named Co-Host for the National Race, which will be part of the End Women's Cancer Weekend, held Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday Nov. 5 .
"I have really felt strongly about raising more money than before," Ericsson says.
She adds, "Thanks to the help of my niece, Lindsay, and my friends here, we have had some unique and fun fundraising events. We even put on a concert and silent auction and raffle that brought in over $4,000!"
"This will be the fourth year we have participated in the Race and in fundraising, and we are on track to bring in over $20,000," she says.
To join Wendy's Warriors, or the Foundation for Women's Cancer, click here.
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