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Interview CC01

Age at interview: 42
Age at diagnosis: 40
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with cervical cancer (adenocarcinoma) in 1999' Large loop excision. Total hysterectomy plus ovaries removed as a precautionary measure in 2001.
Background: Married, no children.

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Explains why she changed her type of pain relief when she realised morphine was making her feel...

Explains why she changed her type of pain relief when she realised morphine was making her feel...

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The anaesthetist comes and gives you the option of having, I don't know what they're called but they're machines that will deliver morphine on your demand after you're hooked up to it and you can actually press the button to give you pain relief by morphine after you've had the operation. Which you think is a fantastic idea and it's only afterwards that you discover that morphine makes you feel sick as a dog. And nobody tells you that, nobody tells you that slightly useful bit of information. So you go through about a day of feeling sick as a dog before somebody says "Oh it's the morphine," and I then decided to stop using the morphine and just let me them use some other perfectly good pain killers which apparently are actually anti inflammatories as well so they're really good. They can actually use other tablets which are good pain killers and have anti inflammatory properties. So they give you information by which to make an educated choice but they don't actually give you the whole story which I always thought that's the one thing I'd tell people, don't use too much morphine because you'll feel dreadful and there's lots of other ways they can deal with the pain.

 

Describes why she felt it important not to overdo things after her hysterectomy.

Describes why she felt it important not to overdo things after her hysterectomy.

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And really coming home I didn't really have any problems. I think I'd been very conservative in what I do and again not having kids I mean it's very tempting I'm sure to lift stuff, do things, when you've got kids they've got to be looked after. In my case it was just my husband and the pets it's not such a problem and you just make the partner or whoever do all the things that you shouldn't be doing. That's what you've got to do otherwise you prejudice your recovery. And I know of at least 2 people who've had hysterectomies who've ended up going back into hospital because they've just done too much, they've pushed it too much and gone and done aerobics. I mean even after like 3 months. I've just gone back to work after 3 months off and I think I needed every day of that 3 months. And my doctor, at one stage I saw one GP signing me off again and he was saying "Oh some people go back to work after 5 or 6 weeks," and I thought gosh I can't go back to work now. I don't feel ready to go. And it is a bit tempting to think oh I must be making a fuss and I should go back to work. But don't do it because if you get sick pay and all the rest of it then it's just not worth it because in the end your recovery will be much better and much quicker if you just take it easy. I walk quite a bit and that's fine, walk as much as you like that's not going to make any difference to your recovery it's good. But going and doing aerobics and gym work and lifting the kids up and down and doing all this sort of stuff before you feel really ready for it, it's just not worth it. So in the end I've had no real lasting physical effects at all. It's a bit of a shock when you look in the mirror in profile of your stomach I'll tell you that much. Because you think blimey I had a very small stomach before and now I've got this sort of like double decker affair, sort of like an inverted sort of double decker looking thing and that's a bit of a shock. But it must be very tempting for people to rush out and start doing sit-ups and going to the gym and things because they think my God I'm completely going to pot. But again it's like you just take it slowly because the scar is going to change over time. And I think you do need to do some sort of exercise to get it back but 3' months after my operation I've got no intention of starting to do anything too vigorous yet it's just not worth it. You still get the odd twinges just doing things, just general things. So I'm still careful about how heavy things are when I lift them and just having a bit of a rest. 

 

She found the support of the Macmillan nurse beneficial.

She found the support of the Macmillan nurse beneficial.

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By the time I got to the specialist hospital I'd actually been talking to the Macmillan nurse who they seem to attach them to most hospitals now which I think it's an amazingly good idea. Because they're kind of part of the hospital but they're not and they're all specially trained and it's just, it's just like having a different perspective. Rather than being just a purely medical perspective like you get when you talk to your consultant you know it far more takes in you know the whole you you know what's going on in your life and how you're going to cope with the ramifications of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. And you know I couldn't, I couldn't say enough in praise of them really because I think they're absolutely what you need in that situation because it does give a much more human A. because it's a much more human face to the medical service and B. it does actually feel like you know there's somebody on your side. I mean I know the consultant is on your side but it's in a medical way, it's not in a personal way. And I think the support that the Macmillan nurses give is much more personal support. I certainly would've found it a lot harder to deal with the procedures and with the, just with the general sort of decisions I have to make. I mean they don't make decisions for you but they just sort of support you in a way that neither the consultant nor your people at home can because they sort of combine the best of both you know in having medical knowledge but also having that sort of personal interest in the people that they're trying to help. 

 

Explains that she had no symptoms and found out she had cancer through having an abnormal smear...

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Explains that she had no symptoms and found out she had cancer through having an abnormal smear...

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Just over 2 years ago I was planning to start IVF treatment as I was coming up to my 40th birthday and we hadn't had any luck with children. And I'd had a couple of exploratory procedures at hospital just to check out that there was nothing wrong and there wasn't. So I hadn't had a cervical smear for quite a while because like a lot of women I don't particularly like having them and it had just sort of lapsed. So I thought well I'd better go and have one done. Which I did at my local GP and it came back with some abnormalities and, surface abnormalities. 
 
So they asked me to go to hospital to have a colposcopy which I'd never had before and that was really awful as I'm sure a lot of women would know. Sort of the full examination lights, cameras, action and all the rest of it. And I found that quite traumatic. But I went to see the consultant at the hospital afterwards for the results and I went on my own. And the consultant said that they'd found, not just abnormalities on the surface but actual cancer cells deeper down in the neck of the womb and that it would probably mean having a hysterectomy. 

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