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I was invited for a routine smear test before my 25th birthday and went straight away. I was a bit apprehensive but my Mum had talked me through what would happen.
I didn’t have any symptoms so had no reason to think that anything was going to be wrong however I started to feel worried and anxious shortly after I received a letter inviting me to attend a colposcopy. I wasn’t sure what all the terminology on the letter meant, things like ‘HPV’.
Colposcopy was really tough as I sensed that the staff were concerned about me. They took a biopsy and just weeks later I was called in to receive the devastating news that I had cervical cancer – stage 1b. I remember being in the waiting room afterwards and I couldn’t speak. I just wanted to know what was going to happen next.
I was given two treatment options; to either have a hysterectomy or trachelectomy. I chose to have a trachelectomy because I want to have children in the future, so it was a really easy decision for me to make. I would say for other women deciding on a course of treatment that it depends on what stage of life they're at. If I had children already I probably would have had a hysterectomy but I wanted to try and keep my fertility and I was so lucky that my consultant did everything she could so that this could happen.
I had chemotherapy first after being advised by my consultant this would more likely stop the cancer from coming back. I had three rounds of chemotherapy in three week intervals. The worst part was definitely losing my hair, I was more upset about this than anything else.
After the chemotherapy I had the trachelectomy treatment via robotics. My Dad came with me as I wanted the stronger, less emotional parent to sit with me until my surgery time. It was really emotional as this was the first time I had seen my Dad cry. One of the hardest things for me during my treatment was for my little sister, who was two years old, to understand why I had lost my hair, why I was wearing a blond wig and the scars that I had.
The day I was given the all-clear on the 28th November I will remember forever as probably the happiest day of my life so far. I don’t think the experience had quite sunk in as it all happened so fast. It’s been nearly two years since I got the all-clear and finished my treatment but it can be hard for others to understand that it still really affects me. I suffer with side effects of my treatment and get tired very easily (and work one day a week from home), my feet can give me cramp-like symptoms too but they’re a small price to pay! I now have 3 month check-ups with the same consultant I had during my treatment, with regular smear tests and a yearly MRI scan.
I found out about Jo’s when I was first diagnosed as I was given a leaflet in a pack. I found the website really informative and I’m looking forward to going to Let’s Meet to chat to other women who have had the same experiences as me. I cannot stress how important it is to go for a smear test, I had no symptoms so I was very lucky that I did.
If you have been affected by cervical cancer and need to talk, please call our helpline on 0808 802 8000. Our trained helpliners are always happy to chat through any concerns you have and can provide information to help answer your questions.