When I was diagnosed with my cancer, I was within a clear smear window. I hadn’t even reached the three years between smears before it was found while I was being induced into labour with my second daughter. At the time they believed it was a polyp, and at 8 weeks post delivery of my beautiful girl, a professor of obstetrics informed me I needed to go to colposcopy for a biopsy, believing it to be erosions of the cervix. This was in early October.
I want to make it clear, that until it was initially found, I never had any symptoms at all.
On December 19th of 2017 I attended colposcopy, where the gynaecologist informed me that I had cervical cancer. A tumour that was taking over the entire bottom half of my cervix was discovered. She took biopsies & I was sent for an MRI. I was informed at the age of 29 I would require what’s called a radical hysterectomy. This includes the removal of the cervix, top of the vaginal wall, womb and fallopian tubes as well as lymph nodes from the thigh. My diagnosing hospital had to refer me to a different hospital for the surgery itself.
On the 25th of January I underwent 8 hours of surgery, during which time they removed 28 lymph nodes, all of which tested negative for cancer cells. I was given the all clear and put into recovery, to be checked on every 3-4 months for two years, 4-6 months for 3 years. I didn’t make it to my first recovery appointment, I had to request to come in earlier for pelvic pains.
Upon examination at colposcopy they determined I had some normal granulation tissues, but the consultant sent me for an MRI – while assuring me she did not expect a recurrence of the cancer.
Unfortunately she was wrong, the MRI showed “Suspicious Tissue”. I was told that they were 99% certain it was the cancer, but they would be sending me for a PET scan and a biopsy under general anaesthetic. During the wait for the scan I had my first episode of acute pelvic pain, I was taken to hospital by ambulance treated with IV morphine and released, and this is where my relationship with opiate level painkillers began. I can remember saying to my husband that to me, this confirmed it, the cancer was back.
After some chasing I had my PET scan and we were told it could be up to 10 days for the results. My report was back within 24 hours. The PET scan was the that gave us the devastating news that not only had my cancer returned but had also spread to my stomach, and revealed I needed a stent in my right Urethra. My biopsy was for some reason cancelled, so far the only reason given was “not to waste time getting to treatment”
After receiving the results of the scan, I was left to wait for a consultant appointment in my original diagnosing hospital as the hospital I was under for surgery and the PET scan, were discharging me as I was no longer a surgical patient. The consultant that gave me the results of the scan did not and could not give me a prognosis. So we spent two weeks not knowing what was going to happen, what the oncologist would say.
During that wait I was yet again admitted to hospital in agonising pain in my pelvis, I was seen by the clinical nurse specialist dealing in gynaecological cancers and she gave us a whole ton of Macmillan leaflets and no real answers as to what was going to happen next, aside from primary chemotherapy. But wasn’t it lucky I was admitted as now I could have my stent in as an inpatient which speeded up the wait by 2-4 weeks, and once it was in I could see the oncologist the following week and start chemo ASAP.
I had my first Chemotherapy in early July and unfortunately developed a fistula, a pathway that should not exist between my bowel and vagina. This was a huge shock and devastating as it required a delay in treatment. My options were to have a colostomy performed, or no further treatment.
So, on the 9th of August 2018 I had a loop colostomy, going in with the fear my wonderful surgeon may not be able to make it happen and I may have to have an ileostomy (small intestine) instead because of the scans I’d had and how it read on a 2d image. But, my operation ended up being far shorter and incredibly, easy. He had had no issue forming the colostomy for me. I was thrilled, this meant the scans didn’t hold all the answers, and that the cancer hadn’t attached itself to anywhere near as much of the bowel as anticipated.
I recommenced treatment on Friday 14th of September. Around two months after my first dose. We have agreed to sort of start over, I will be receiving 7 cycles of chemotherapy in total but six of them delivered three weeks apart. Each time I sit in the chair is a fresh cycle.
By the end of the recommencement of treatment, just before my second (but really third) cycle, I had noticed pain reduction. This is positive, this is our first indication that the treatment may well be working, and that hopefully, when I have my scan after the next cycle we might get some positive news.
That’s the story so far, I will be keeping this page updated with my story.
Cervical Cancer Facts
In England smear testing begins by invitation at the age of 25 and is every three years.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35.
Cervical Cancer is not thought to be hereditary.
99.7% of cases are caused by frequent infections of the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) which you can now be vaccinated against.
Around 4 out of 5 sexually active adults will become infected with HPV at some point in their lives – however, for most women this does not mean they will develop cervical cancer. This is still considered rare.
All facts taken from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust & the NHS
Cervical Cancer Symptoms
Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms until it is advanced. This is why Smear testing is so incredibly important.
However, if you notice ANY of the following symptoms, then PLEASE visit your doctor as soon as you can.
This includes bleeding during/after sex, in-between periods or after you have completed your menopause
Other Symptoms may include
- Pain or discomfort in your back/abdomen
- Pain during sex
- Unpleasant vaginal discharge
- Peeing or posing more than usual
- Losing control of your bladder (urinary incontinence) or losing control of your bowels (bowel incontience)
- Blood in your pee
- Swelling in one or both of your legs
- Severe vaginal bleeding
- Severe pain in your side or back caused by your kidneys
- Pain in your lower back or pelvis