According to a story from Gloucestershire Live, Emma Robinson, who is only 46 years old, was just told by her doctors that she has terminal cancer. She had vulvar cancer, a very rare form of cancer. Because of stigma, many patients find it so embarrassing to discuss that they try to ignore it until it is too late. Emma wants to encourage women who suspect that they have the disease to not be afraid to speak out, even if the subject makes them uncomfortable, as prompt treatment could make the difference in survival.
About Vulvar Cancer
Vulvar cancer appears on the vulva, which is the exterior portion of the female genitalia. This is a very rare form of cancer. The exact cause of vulvar cancer remains unknown, but some potential risk factors have been identified. These factors include HIV, smoking, exposure to human papillomavirus, old age, a history of precancerous conditions affecting the area, or a history of skin conditions involving the vulva. Symptoms of vulvar cancer include pain in the pelvic region during sex or urination, burning, itching or bleeding, sores or lumps on the vulva, changes in skin coloration of the vulva, and changes in skin texture that resemble a rash or warts. Treatment primarily involves surgery, with chemo and radiation reserved for metastatic cases. To learn more about vulvar cancer, click here.
Emma has made great efforts to live a healthy and active lifestyle in recent years, but she says that for much of her life she was prone to vulvar itching and discomfort. She was treated for fungal infections and generally tried not to worry about it, but a decade ago she was diagnosed with a precancerous condition called lichen sclerosus. Despite receiving treatment, her symptoms did not resolve.
This past December, she received her cancer diagnosis. Since then, doctors have pulled every treatment in the book for vulvar cancer in an attempt to save her. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, and doctors began intense treatment, including surgery to remove tumors, chemotherapy, and radiation. Unfortunately, the treatment was in vain.
Now, Emma is spending her last remaining months with her loving children. She is still doing some palliative chemo to buy her a little more time, but she accepts that her time is limited. At the end of the day, she just wants other women to be aware of their bodies and to not be afraid to discuss health issues that involve the vulva.