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Every day at Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust we see the impact that receiving a cervical cancer diagnosis has on women and their family. From the initial diagnosis, to treatment, care and life after treatment, what is very clear to us is that every experience is different.
Our vision is for a future where cervical cancer is a disease of the past, however until that day; we want to ensure that every woman has the best care possible regardless of their situation, age, stage or treatment.
We are launching our 'Cervical cancer stories' report to draw attention to the varying experiences and needs of women affected by cervical cancer. The stories of 35 women who have faced a diagnosis within the last two years have been collated in this groundbreaking report.
During our interviews we heard so many positive stories about the amazing support women received from clinical nurse specialists, family and friends. We hope this report goes someway to celebrate this and in particular celebrate the health care professionals out there who are providing excellent care, sometimes going above and beyond to support women during their treatment. We also heard about relationships getting stronger, employers being supportive and external organisations providing much needed additional information and support.
Many of the stories we heard were positive, however we also heard about aspects of diagnosis, treatment and care that were not as good as they could be and women feeling isolated, confused or upset. We want this to change.
For many women, receiving the all clear is far from the end of their journey. There is the emotional and psychological impact a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have; many women experience physical side effects of treatment which may affect them long after their treatment has finished. There is the impact on relationships, changes to work life, their financial situation, dealing with changes to or loss of their fertility and sex and intimacy.
Lots of the women we spoke to said they did not receive enough information or support about potential side effects or how to deal with them. This is really worrying, especially as there are so many incredible organisations out there ready to provide support or help. We want to urge health care professionals to signpost patients towards them so they are not left to deal with the side effects of cervical cancer alone.
To find out what else we found and what and what we are asking to change to ensure every woman get the best care possible read the report at: jostrust.org.uk/cervicalcancerstories
Help us share the report by tweeting:
Every woman should have the best care possible. Read @JoTrust new report #cervicalcancerstories at www.jostrust.org.uk/cervicalcancerstories
This blog first appeared on the Huffington Post on 29 September 2016