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Anne Marie - Interview 25

Age at interview: 44
Age at diagnosis: 29
Brief Outline: Anne Marie was diagnosed with CIN3 in 1995, aged 29. She had a cone biopsy and, shortly afterwards, haemorrhaged and was admitted to hospital for three days. She recovered well but, for some time, felt anxious about having sex and more children.
Background: Anne Marie is a married police officer with two children Ethnic background / nationality' White British

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Six weeks after having her first child, in 1992, Anne Marie was given a cervical screening test, aged 26, and the results were normal. Three years later, in 1995, she attended for routine cervical screening and her results showed abnormalities. She was referred to a colposcopy clinic, where she was examined and told she had pre-cancerous cell changes. She said she was not given much more information and it was two years later, at an appointment with her GP, that she actually learnt she’d had CIN3.

Anne Marie was given a cone biopsy and results showed she had CIN3 and pre-cancerous changes going into the birth canal. She was also given a D&C (dilation and curettage). A week after surgery, however, she started bleeding extremely heavily and went back into hospital. Anne Marie had haemorrhaged and was treated as an emergency patient. She stayed in hospital for three days and had a blood transfusion.

Anne Marie said she was shocked that her smear test in 1992 was normal and, within three years, she’d developed pre-cancerous cells. She would have liked more information about CIN3, treatment, and what to expect after surgery. She had to take a month off work because she needed to recover fully before she could take up her job again as a police officer.

Anne Marie said the whole experience had been shocking and, afterwards, she was extremely anxious about having sex and more children. She’d lost confidence and, although she did have another baby, it was seven years after her first.

After treatment, Anne Marie had regular follow-up appointments and is now on the three-yearly NHS Cervical Screening Programme. Apart from some cervical erosion, she said she has always had clear results.

Anne Marie advised women to ask questions so they can get all the information they need. She would have liked more information after she'd had an abnormal smear result and throughout the process.

 

Anne Marie’s partner wondered whether he’d given her HPV. She felt that HPV is a common virus and...

Anne Marie’s partner wondered whether he’d given her HPV. She felt that HPV is a common virus and...

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I think his [husband’s] concern was, so going back to the wart virus, he was thinking, this is what we’ve discussed more recently actually. He was thinking, “Oh my goodness, have I carried this wart virus and given it to my wife, you know?” Girlfriends before he met me. And that went through his mind, and that’s what caused another difficulty at the time

So he’s thinking he’s caused it?

Caused it. So there’s a blame factor. And that would be awful, you know. I would never think that it was, yet in any case if it was even, would it really matter? It’s happened, you know. It’s quite a common thing.

 

It took Anne Marie a couple of years before she felt comfortable having sex again. Talking to a...

It took Anne Marie a couple of years before she felt comfortable having sex again. Talking to a...

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I think it did affect me in as much as I was scared to have sex. I was scared to have another baby. I’ve got a big age gap between my children. Me and my husband have been together a long time but we’ve got a seven year age gap because of this. And that was down to me.

I was terrified. I was imagining all sorts because I wasn’t worried about conceiving because I’d asked that question and they said you should be fine. I was worried about the actual physicality of giving birth, and what would happen to my cervix, and how would it all happen and work and what would happen if it all went wrong and,

Well most people after an operation like that for CIN 3 do feel wary, and scared even, of having sex again?

Yeah, I was.

You’d had a further thing to contend with, which was the haemorrhaging, so, it’s quite understandable that

It was, it was. Yeah. It did.

….and you know what if something goes wrong, or if you’re injured in any way.

That’s right, and I was, it did affect things on that subject. And it took me a long time to get my confidence back. I mean, you know, you’re talking a good couple of years to get my confidence back. I was scared every time I did it.

Yeah, that’s understandable.

I was really scared. Yeah. And, you know, that it might hurt, and everything.

Was your husband quite understanding, because he was still quite young?

Yeah he was at first, but when, you know, those early days after, I think you know anybody would be. But then, you know, after a while it did sort of wear a bit thin with him. And I do understand that, but then again we were quite young and perhaps I should have gone and got a little bit more help.


I should have gone back to my GP or even the nurse. And that’s actually where my help came, a year later, routine smear, screening, smear test. The nurse just said something like, “Is everything okay?” And I said, “Well actually…” and that’s when she said, “Look it’s absolutely fine. You’ve got to relax. It’s all done and dusted. Everything’s fine.” A little bit of reassurance, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

Ann Marie now has smear tests every three years. She sees her GP if she has any unusual symptoms,...

Ann Marie now has smear tests every three years. She sees her GP if she has any unusual symptoms,...

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And you’ve been fine since?

Fine. There’s been a couple of things, I mean obviously as far as the screening programme goes, I was screened I thought it was every year for 10 years, but I think it was every year for seven years. I found one last letter, and it’s dated 17th January 2002, and then it says, “Thank you for attending the surgery recently for your smear test. I am happy to tell you that your cervical smear was normal. I would be grateful if you would attend for the next test in three years time. So it was, from 2002, so every year till 2002.

And then back on to the normal three years?

Back onto the normal three years. And there’s been...

Was this at the GP’s surgery?


Yeah. There’s been a couple of times when I’ve had a scare. And by that I mean I look very closely for all the signs and symptoms. So any bit of pain during intercourse, any kind of blood smearing like that at a time when you’re not expecting your period, and also any discharge with that in it. So I’ve had a couple of those things happen to me.

The last one was the year before last. But because of my history now, and I’m sure this would be the case anyway even if you didn’t have the history; the GP’s referred me straightaway. This time I’m going to [hospital name], just because the whole system’s changed. I go to [hospital name]. There’s a gynaecologist there, a fantastic guy, called [doctor’s name]. He had me in there straight away, had a look, found there was an erosion, treated it, off you go.

 

The midwife reassured Anne Marie that the chances of her having a problem were low. She delivered...

The midwife reassured Anne Marie that the chances of her having a problem were low. She delivered...

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It did affect me in as much as I was scared to have sex. I was scared to have another baby. I’ve got a big age gap between my children, me and my husband have been together a long time but we’ve got a seven year age gap because of this. And that was down to me.

And that…

I was terrified. I was imagining all sorts because I wasn’t worried about conceiving because I’d asked that question and they said you should be fine. I was worried about the actual physicality of giving birth, and what would happen to my cervix, and how would it all happen and work and what would happen if it all went wrong.

So, but you did get pregnant?

I did yeah.

And how did everything go? Did you have any concerns throughout, or were you fine?

I was okay for most of the time, until it was getting nearer the time, nearer the 40 weeks, and I thought well, you know, that baby’s in there. And he’s got to come out, and as it got closer and closer to the date I was really worried and I broached the subject with one of the midwives eventually.

Had they known at all that you’d had this experience before? The CIN 3?

Yeah, they had my records, but I think there’s not enough continuity in... There wasn’t then. I don’t know if there is now. I know they try and give you the same midwife wherever possible, but it doesn’t always work out. I think if there’d have been a bit more continuity, they’d have known.

But I did have [son’s name], my baby in the same hospital where I had the operation, so all the records were there. And I can’t say for sure that they knew, but eventually I did, when I broached the subject, she said, “Oh yeah, you’ll all be fine. It’ll all be fine.” No problem. And if there are any problems, you know, we’ll deal with it.

So that’s quite reassuring?

Yeah. Because she said, “all we do is,” she goes, “you know loads of people who’ve had caesareans, and if there’s a problem you’ll just have to have a caesarean if that’s okay with you.” And I said, “Yeah, well that’s fine.” And that was really the end of it.

So you had your baby, everything was fine? Did you have a caesarean, or…?

No, it was all spontaneous, natural birth.

 

Anne Marie had a haemorrhage a week after having a cone biopsy. She was rushed into hospital and...

Anne Marie had a haemorrhage a week after having a cone biopsy. She was rushed into hospital and...

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Unfortunately, literally a week to the day of the operation, there was a haemorrhage. And not being that educated about those sort of things, it is obvious to me now. When I went into A&E [Accident and Emergency] they said to me, it was a female doctor who was brilliant, she said, “Look at the difference between that blood, the colour of it, and say blood from an old wound or a period. The period blood is darker. This is bright red. So it’s a haemorrhage.”

So you were bleeding very heavily, using sanitary towels?

Very. Yeah.

Every…?


Well they said to me they were trying to ascertain how much blood I’d lost before they’d checked. And then eventually the female doctor said, in A&E, said to me, how many sanitary towels have you got through in an hour? And I said, “Six.” And she goes, “Six an hour every day?” And I said, “Yes.”

We were wheeled into a room and the ambulance staff, I heard them outside talking to whoever it was, saying she’s bleeding. You need to speak to her as soon as possible. And in fact after a few minutes, somebody did come in. They examined me. I think once they had a look and realised what was going, the blood was literally very heavy, bleeding heavily, and she ran off quickly to get the gynaecologist out of bed, because this was about one o’clock in the morning.

He came down. They then linked me up to one of those machines that does your blood pressure automatically. Then I felt myself passing out. And I could hear them talking to my husband about blood transfusions.

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