Cervical Cancer

How it affects you


Being diagnosed with a serious illness can be traumatic and overwhelming, and reactions differ from person to person. Here women discuss how they felt when they were diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Many described a sense of shock and how normal everyday things became irrelevant. One said she found it became easier when tests and plans for treatments started. Some had suspected something might be wrong but they didn't expect the seriousness of it. Others who did not have any physical symptoms, or who had had normal smear test results, described their disbelief that they could have cancer.

A few said they did not feel too shocked when they were told because they had suspected it. One woman describes as having been on autopilot, feeling calm and treating the situation as something which had to be got through. A few who had had bleeding said that they were relieved that the reason for their symptoms had been found. One describes how receiving the diagnosis forced her to take stock of her life which resulted in the time of her diagnosis as being the most peaceful time in her life. Another explained that she never considered that she might die.

Some women said they were frightened that they might die. A few were concerned about the effect on their children if they were to die. Another young woman diagnosed with advanced cancer who survived, explained that she had not been afraid of death and had made plans for it and that it was only later that she felt upset about not being able to have children. Some found that it was at night time that they felt most alone and were most upset.

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Several women felt angry. One who had early stage cancer said she felt annoyed and was determined to get rid of it. Another felt angry that she had been going for regular smears which had shown negative results.

Some described the double blow they felt when they were told that they not only had cancer but they would no longer be able to have children. One woman in her twenties explains how it affected her.

Several described feelings of relief that their cancer had been caught at an early stage and treatment could be given. A few described feeling a second shock when they were told that they needed more extensive treatment than first test results had indicated. One explains the panic she felt when she was told after her hysterectomy that cancer cells had escaped from her lymph nodes and she would need radiotherapy. Another describes how she felt when her examination under anaesthetic showed that her cancer was more advanced than hoped and she would need radio-chemotherapy treatment rather than surgery.

Several said they just wanted the cancer to be taken away and it was not until after their treatment that they experienced a range of emotions.

Last reviewed April 2014.

 

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