I’ve had fibroids for a number of years, which cause spotting from time to time. But recently when I was on vacation with my husband, I went to take a shower and had a little gush of blood. My husband insisted that we go the very next day to the Veterans Affairs hospital in Brooklyn, NY, where we both have our doctors. My husband is a Viet Nam vet, and veterans’ wives have been eligible for VA health benefits since 2008.
Fortunately, my gynecologist was able to see me right away. He took a pap smear and it came back normal. But then he said, “You know, it’s not normal to bleed at your age”—I’m 61—“so let’s take a biopsy to be sure.” When the results came back and I went in for my appointment, the doctor asked me who had come with me that day. I told him, “My daughter,” and he said, “Have her come into the room”—so I knew the results weren’t good.
“I have good news and bad news,” he told us. “The bad news is, you have cancer. The good news is that it’s uterine cancer”—which he explained is less dangerous than ovarian or breast cancer—“and it’s an low grade cancer, grade 1, the best kind to have.” He also explained that he could do a hysterectomy to remove the tumor but, since he wasn’t an oncologic surgeon, he wanted to put me in the very best hands possible. “I’m going to send you to the surgeons at NYU Langone Medical Center,” he said.
With the help of the VA staff, I got an appointment to see Dr. Bhavana Pothuri about a week later. When I met her for the first time, I joked with her about how young she looked. “Don’t worry,” she assured me, “I’ve done hundreds of these procedures!” She also told me about robotic surgery—how it was less invasive and I could go home the next day. I’ve already had two Caesarian sections, so the idea that I didn’t have to be cut open again worked for me!
Dr. Pothuri’s staff arranged the scheduling, and the operation took place two weeks later. When they brought me into the operating room I saw the robot, then they put me down on the bed. The last thing I remember is a young nurse—I called her my Little Nightingale—rubbing my arm as I lay there. The next thing I knew, hours later I was in the recovery room. I wasn’t in much pain at all, and I was amazed at the lack of scars—I had four little marks on my stomach, that was it. I had surgery on Monday, went home on Tuesday, and by the weekend I was walking around, feeling good—much better than my children expected. It was wonderful. As I mentioned, I’ve had open surgery before and I know what it’s like to be unable to walk for weeks. With robotic surgery, there’s none of that. I recommend it highly!
As for Dr. Pothuri, she is phenomenal—I brag about her all the time. I also love Dr. Pothuri’s whole team. I had a great experience with everyone, from her receptionist to her nurse practitioner. Even the place where I got my wig after my chemotherapy was excellent.
For me, everything fell into place. During the surgery, Dr. Pothuri pulled out tissue from 16 lymph nodes, and all were negative. Since then I’ve had breast surgery as well, so I’ve been through a lot, but right now I’m back to 80 percent of my normal activity level. I’m doing well and feeling good. After all my health issues, I’m more focused than ever on spending time with people I care about, doing things I really want to do, and enjoying the beauty of the world around me. I really can’t complain at all.