Hello! My name is Donna- I am a wife and a mummy to 3 boys. Last August (2020) I received devastating news and was diagnosed with Stage 2B Cervical Cancer.
Started getting Symptoms.
I started getting some symptoms in June- I thought it was just an infection so was put on 2 weeks of antibiotics. However, during this time I was also getting quite large blood clots coming out when I was going to the toilet. The doctors decided to swab me and also gave me an internal and external ultrasound- the results to these all came back clear. The blood clots stopped for a bit but then I bled quite heavily twice during sex. I messaged the Doctor the next day and she referred me straight to the hospital to have a colposcopy. I wasn’t particularly worried at this stage due to the swabs and ultrasounds being clear, as well as I had never missed a smear and my smears have also always been clear.
When I went to have the colposcopy I was told I was going to have an Ectropion as they thought my cells were growing outside the cervical wall so would need to be taken off- I was fine with that and just said to do what was needed. It all went a bit scary when I was laid there and the doctor said she needed to do something else if that was OK- I told her that was fine – I didn’t know at the time but that was when she was doing a biopsy. She asked me if I had come to the hospital by myself or was someone waiting for me- I was alone, my husband had dropped me off but what with Covid and the fact I didn’t think it was going to be anything major I didn’t think anyone was needed. The whole room at that point went awkward- I could tell something was not right but I filled the silence with random talk about work and my children.
A State of Shock
Once completed I sat down opposite and said ‘Is there anything I should be worried about?’ and she replied with ‘Yes – you have cervical cancer’. My mind went blank for a few seconds- then I was thinking I need to ask questions- I didn’t want to ask about dying as I thought I bet that is what everybody asks- but I think I said ‘have I got long to live??’ One of the nurses gave me a hug as I just started to cry, we were in masks and I shouldn’t have probably been given a hug but they could tell I needed it. I got out of the hospital quite quickly after that as just wanted to be at home- the walk, even though only a mile felt a long mile.
When I got home my boys were playing in their bedrooms- my husband asked if everything was OK and I just said ‘No, it’s cancer’ and we both broke down. The next few days were a bit of a blur- because my smears had always come back clear with no evidence of HPV we were quite confused and were hoping it was very early stages of cancer. We even rang the doctor again just to make sure she was sure- which her reply was she was very positive it was cancer.
Well within a week I had had the confirmation that it was cervical cancer with a large tumor- and had my MRI scan, blood tests, and my PET scan- it was a whirlwind of a week- results from my PET scan came back as a 6 cm tumor that hadn’t spread, but was in my muscle wall so it would be chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and brachytherapy.
It was decided, because of my fear of needles, that I would have a PICC line in this was an absolute must for me- as it stopped me being panicky and anxious about the blood tests and catheters every week. I am so grateful that I had the PICC line as it was extremely easy to look after and worked so well for the weeks I was having treatment.
So chemotherapy started the first week of October- I didn’t actually know what chemotherapy was – so when it arrived in the clear bag I started to cry. I am someone who rarely takes paracetamols so this was a whole new experience for me having all the drugs and chemicals pumped into me. I also started radiotherapy this day too.
At the end of the first week, I just could not cope- I was so low and emotions were all over the place. It turned out my iron levels were considerably low so I ended up having a blood transfusion (yay to the PICC line again). This really helped me perk up the following week. The team at Lincoln hospital was so good and made this scary journey so much easier for me with their kind words and just how they listened if I needed someone to talk too.
I was very lucky and Chemotherapy didn’t really affect me apart from sickness the first day- it was radiotherapy that I had the most side effects from. I ended up getting radiation cystitis which meant for 4 weeks I could barely move- walking was unbearable, even laying down and sitting made me cry in pain. Baths made it worse and there did not seem to be an end in sight. That was when I really had to drill it in me that I had to take each day at a time and I couldn’t think about too far ahead as otherwise, I started to feel down that this pain would last a long time.
When I started to get to the end of Chemotherapy that is when the worry for the Brachytherapy started! All I will say is- ‘It is not as bad as you think!’. I had epidurals for my 3 brachys and I honestly did not feel a thing! In fact, it was probably the easiest part of the treatment! As I was still suffering from radiation cystitis at this time it also helped me had a few hours being pain-free!
Since I finished treatment I have had some lower back pain, so I have a DEXA scan booked to check my bone density, I’m also going through early menopause. I’m tired and emotional. I am waiting for my final PET scan to see if my cancer has gone, it is a long wait but homeschooling is keeping me busy!
The takeaway from #MyCancerChapter
The biggest part to take from my story is that my smears were clear. Smears only check for HPV now, which means mine would have been clear even with a 6cm tumor and it doesn’t bare thinking about the ‘what ifs’.** Even if your smears are clear please, if anything doesn’t quite feel right, get it checked!** If I hadn’t carried on going back to the doctors and just waited things would have been a lot different.
Thank you for reading Donna @my_cervical_cancer_journey
Like Donna, inspire others. If you have a story to share then write to us at JaneSmith@kareoptions.com or visit the below link for more information. #MyCancerChapter
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