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I wanted to share my story from the past few months in the hope it helps others on this rollercoaster of a journey.
The Jo's trust forum has helped me, my partner and family understand processess, experiences and a little of what to expect thoughout, I can't say enough how much the forum helped me in the thoughest times, and I'm hoping I can help others.
A bit of background - I'm 31, UK based, never smoked, no children, gym goer, healthy eater, pervious smears were clear, never had any medical issues...never even had a filling!
My periods have always been clockwork, late last year I had a 2 day period after a spinning class. A quick Google found this can happen, and not really much to worry about.
My smear test had come through, so I booked in to see a Doctor in December as I knew something wasn't quite right. Along with my smear test, I had STI and Bacterial tests done (lot's of poking about!) and bled quite a bit after the test. The Doctor said then it could be Cervical Cancer and I was a bit shelled shocked, but convinced myself it couldn't be. Cancer happened to others - not me.
Fast fowards a few days and the Doctor confirmed I'd have a bacterial infection, course of antibiotics and nothing to worry about.
Then I recieved my smear test results - "severe abnormal cells" and was called in for a colposcopy the end of Decemeber - and I thought, "Ah nothing to worry about, it'll be a false negative result from that infection, I'll go in, tell them about the infection and I'll be out again."
I headed in for the colposcopy, and told the nurse about the infection, and she gently corrected me that's not how severe abnormal cells work, and that I was likely to have the lletz there and then. I hadn't mentally prepared for this, and was then taken to the colposcopy room in a bit of a panic! On closer inspection the nurse found there was large amount of something there and took a biospy. She said I'd have to come back and have the lletz done under general anesthetic as it was to much to do there and then - which suited me as the biospy nearly made me pass out - not from pain - just because I'm a wimp!
I then had to wait for the results. Everyone on here says that the waiting is the worst - it really is.
I knew I had cancer, but didn't know how much. I was having pains all over, convinced myself it must be late stage, and feared the very worst. Even when I was logically telling myself my previous smear was clear, I'd had minor symptoms, it didn't make sense to be late stage.
I had fantastic support from my boyfriend, family and friends who listened and helped keep me busy during this time, although I knew they were going through similar scary thoughts.
I then recieved a letter to go in and see the consultant on the 7th of January. Nothing else in the letter. I knew this meant cancer.
We were so nervous before going in, and then so relieved when the consultant confirmed early stage cancer (Squamous cell), possibly 1B1 as it was visible to the naked eye. The next step was an MRI scan to find out more.
I then had to wait for the MRI results, and for the MDT meeting to confirm next steps. As it wasn't sure if a lletz loop would be needed, or we'd go straight for trachelectomy. I didn't know what a trachelectomy involved, and one morning read up on this...and almost passed out from the idea of it all. (Told you I was a wimp!)
The MRI results came through, and it was decided that it looked to be 5mm in depth and 7mm wide, so a big 1cm lletz loop would be the first step.
I had my loop 30th January, under general anesthetic. I took a few days off work to recover, both physically and mentally. However very little pain, and no infection afterwards.
A week later (the longest week ever) I had the fantastic news that the biospy done on the piece of cervix removed showed clear margins, and no evidence in my blood stream. However the hospital wanted to do a CT Scan to check it wasn't anywhere else in my body.
I had a CT scan a week later, in the run up to the scan my boobs hurt, I had a pain in my side, the bad thoughts of cancer all over were back again. And again the waiting for the results...a week later these came back all clear.
Now to see the senior consultant, to see what the next steps were going to be. I had told myself there could be many options, another loop, loop + lymph nodes, trachelectomy, radio, anything could be on the table. The day before I was due to see the senior, my appointment was cancelled as my results hadn't been discussed in the MDT meeting - I was beyond frustrated. I just wanted to know what was going on. I was booked back in for 2 weeks later...by this point I was pretty much healed from the loop, and was hoping that a trachelectomy wasn't going to be the option.
So finally saw the senior consultant last week - and I'd had a lucky escape. Although there was a mixture of CIN3 and Squamous, the depth of the cancer had actually only reached 0.3mm! A tiny amount, and based on the new grading I was back down to a 1a1. Clear margins, no blood stream involvement, and clear CT Scan means that I'm now clear and will be monitored for the next 10 years.
Typing this out now it's so hard to remember those extreme emotions, and how scared I felt. But I was terrified.
I wanted to say if you're at the start, you'll be ok, it will be tough, but you'll get through it.
My advice is don't look for your story in others (I did this often) and it wasn't all that helpful, everyone is so different. Different lifestyles, ages, locations, it makes every diagnosis different. The biggest thing I took comfort in from everyone's stories is that we're still here! Even the ladies going through very tough journies with later stages, they're still here.
The waiting is the worst. And your mind will convince you of the most awful things whilst you're waiting, try and write down all the logical things you know and keep referring back to these when your mind is playing up.
Be patient but persistant with the hospital, the NHS are doing an absoultely amazing job, but they are so swamped. Don't be afraid to call and ask what's happening, sometimes they might not have an update, but a quick poke via the phone let's them know you're waiting for info. Be Brave!
I also took the offer of conselling and found this helped my anxiety so much, along with journelling, meditation and aromathrepahy. It feels a bit daft to start with, but let your preconceptions go and go along with it. It really worked for me!
Wow. Sorry that turned out to be much longer than I anticipated. I hope it helps someone though, please message if you have any questions and I'll try and help.