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In April 2010 I started to have irregular bleeding but didn't think much of it. By August, I was bleeding almost constantly and I went for a smear test with my GP. From then on I was in a lot of pain. Some days I couldn't stand up straight. Following further investigations in October I was told I had stage 1b/2a cervical cancer at 25 years old.
Thankfully the cancer hadn't spread, so it was recommended I had a hysterectomy, but I was to keep my ovaries although the surgeon was moving them higher as it was still not clear if I would need more treatment.
It was all a bit mad, to say the least, and hard to comprehend. At the time my son was 8 years old and whilst he knew Mum had been poorly and needed an operation, we never said the word 'cancer'. It was only after I had recovered and he was a bit older at 10, we told him it had been cancer.
Facing a loss of fertility at such a young age was pretty tough and we discussed freezing eggs but I decided against that. One of my doctors gave me the best piece of advice; that I had to think of the child I already had and not the children I could possibly have in the future. I had to think of my son who was here with me, and healthy.
Unfortunately because of the position of the tumour the doctors weren't satisfied they had enough clear margins and recommended chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy 'just to be on the safe side'. I cried for about two days after finding out I had to have all of that. But I had to remember that if it was going to make me better for the rest of my life, then great. I started treatment on my 26th birthday. The radiotherapy was ok and over fairly quickly. The chemotherapy was harder as I was sat on a drip for 5-6 hours. All the staff were really helpful. There are always positives though as I made two friends, who I call my chemo buddies, that I still see now.
I didn't suffer from many side affects. I never vomitted and I kept my hair, but I was so very tired. I had no energy at all. I would be up at 7am and be in bed by 5 or 6pm most nights.
The biggest issue I have had to deal with after all of this is going through the menopause. Unfortunately the radioterapy killed off my ovaries. I suffer badly with hot flushes whilst at the same time always having very cold hands and feet. Me and my mum are always comparing our symptoms and HRT patches or 'hot flush stickers', as my son calls them.
Physically, I haven't suffered too badly. I'm rugby mad but doctors have told me I can't play. But I keep fit through running and exercise groups. I do have to be careful in work lifting heavy goods or lifting anything too high. I still get tired several years on, I can sometimes sleep up to 12 hours a night quite easily. I do tend to get a lot more of the coughs and colds that go around due to a reduced immune system, so I always keep antibacterial gel near me and am generally a bit more careful. But otherwise I don't worry about it at all.
The diagnosis hasn't affected relationships either and I have had a long term relationship since. I also went back to work about 8 months after diagnosis and started to enjoy a bit of normality again.