Uterine cancer survivor finds miracles in her rare experience

Jan de Chambrier had always envisioned herself as a mother to several
children. In 1990, she and her husband were on their way to fulfilling
that desire when they found out they were expecting twins. Then she
suffered a miscarriage. And the news got worse from there.

“They discovered a tumor behind the uterus,” says Jan, who was 37 at
the time. “It was unusual because at that age, women are not diagnosed
with uterine cancer. I was told that it was a miracle
that I conceived given that I had this type of cancer in my body.”

Losing the ability to bear children after uterine cancer treatment

As part of her uterine cancer treatment, Jan had to undergo a
complete hysterectomy.

“I went overnight from being pregnant to being menopausal,” she
says. “It kind of rocked our world.”

Jan struggled with the emotional impact of her treatment for a year
and a half. Then her husband helped her gain a new perspective: Her
story wasn’t a tragedy; it was a miracle because if it wasn’t for her
pregnancy, no one would’ve discovered the tumor until it was too late.

“That’s really what turned the corner for me,” Jan says.

Eventually, she and her husband adopted a son, Paul, and in 1994,
the family moved to The Woodlands, Texas from Denver, Colorado.

A rare uterine cancer recurrence

After more than two decades in remission, Jan noticed a lump in her
lower abdomen in January 2016. “I thought it was a hernia because it
had been 26 years since my diagnosis,” she says.

Jan’s family doctor examined the lump during her annual physical and
told her it wasn’t a hernia.

“I just felt a jolt,” Jan recalls. “I remember going out to my car,
and I thought, you know, I have a choice here. I can give into fear,
or I can choose to remember what God did 26 years ago.”

Jan met with Douglas Nelson, M.D., at MD Anderson in The
Woodlands
, and the results of her staging studies caught everyone
by surprise.

“It was a very unusual recurrence of the original cancer,” she says.

A second miracle

Jan’s scans indicated her tumor was aggressive, so Michael
Bevers, M.D.
, said she needed to undergo a 6-hour surgery to
remove the mass, along with half of her stomach muscles, and have her
small intestine restructured with the help of plastic surgeon Victor Hassid, M.D. But on April 14, 2016, Jan
awoke from surgery to see Bevers smiling at her.

“He said, ‘You probably won’t remember this, but it went very well.
We learned that all we had to do was remove the tumor,’” she recalls.
“It was so encapsulated and so contained that they didn’t have to
remove any muscles. Dr. Hassid just consolidated all the scars in my
abdomen into one beautiful line.”

A new purpose after uterine cancer treatment

Cancer has inspired Jan to help others who are dealing with their
own diagnoses.

“You have to grieve,” she advises, adding, “Just because we have
experienced deep loss, it doesn’t mean that we no longer have a
purpose. Sometimes we have to look deeper to find our purpose.”

This introspection led Jan to volunteer with myCancerConnection, MD
Anderson’s
one-on-one support program for cancer patients and caregivers.

“I felt that I had been so blessed to go through that whole process
and emerge healthy and joyful and able to live a strong and vibrant
life,” she says. “I have a wonderful family and a great career, so
it’s been great to give back to help others.”

Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by
calling 1-877-632-6789.