A-Z

Interview CC04

Age at interview: 43
Age at diagnosis: 42
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001. Wertheim's hysterectomy. One ovary and 32 lymph nodes removed.
Background: Accountant; married, 2 children.

More about me...

 
Text only
Read below

She explains why regular smear tests are important.

HIDE TEXT
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Go for the smear test because if there is anything wrong it is far better to catch it early. If its not caught early its better to know as soon as possible. It increases your chance of survival and when you get the diagnosis you do want to survive. Its all very well saying 'Oh well you've gotta go when you've gotta go,' or these clich's that people come out with. But when you actually think you might die then you find out you want to live. And its, don't take those chances.

 

She found her local oncology health centre beneficial.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
But I think, well surely, there must be some other tests, and it has been worrying me. Soin my area there's an Oncology Health Centre. And by accident I sort of found out about it and I've been going there and only last week I went to see the nurse and the medical doctor there who gives advice. I was asking them about the tests and other things. And its, it's really good that the area I'm in has that facility because I think its quite rare. Its really been beneficial. It's a drop-in centre where you can go any time, you don't have to make an appointment. You can ask medical questions, you can seek medical advice, its not just counselling and the people that you see know what its like to have cancer, they speak to other people. They can give you specific advice, not just tea and sympathy and treat you seriously. I found that really helpful and he said 'Well go and ask your doctor about the regular checks and we'll also find out more for you.' So I'm going back again and they're going to find out certain things for me.

 

She wanted to enjoy more things in the present rather than always saving up for the future.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I went back to see the counsellor nurse at the hospital and we talked for an hour and that was very helpful because I said about wanting to do more for myself. She said 'Yes its, its so awful when you see women who have waited, have put things back till retirement and then they're not going to live long. You know, if you want to do it, do it now.' So I'm going to Nepal in March for two weeks. I'm going with a girlfriend I used to go to school with and we're going to Nepal. And I'm going to do a bit of trekking which I'm a bit worried about because of my leg but I've got that support stocking now. I'm going to go cycling in France with my husband. I've stopped the AVC [saving plan] and I buy, I'm trying to buy something every couple of months I bought like, I quite like Poole pottery and other things. You can't take it with you can you? And I think I got too hooked on this middle class saving, saving, saving. Yes, I want the children to go to university and, and pay for that but equally I want to spend some money, money on myself and, and then also I thought oh if I die there's not gonna be enough money, but then when I stopped to think about it, well my pension would pay out twice my salary. The mortgage would be paid off. How much money does your family need? So its helped. It did help talking to that nurse and thinking about doing things now. 
 

Describes her reasons for believing that young people can cope better than you would expect.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well, my children knew I'd had the conal biopsy and they knew that there could be a chance that I would get cancer, but when I got the diagnosis of cancer I didn't want to tell them. I didn't want to upset my eldest, or the other one but my eldest daughter was doing her GCSEs. But people were phoning me because my friends did know, how was I and that kind of thing, which was unusual to have that amount of phone calls. And then I was in the kitchen, my eldest daughter said 'It was alright wasn't it, the results from your biopsy?' I think this was, this was about probably three or four days after I'd gone back and had been told I had got it, maybe it was more than that actually, I did keep it a secret, I kept it a secret more for, a week or more and, and I've always been quite truthful to them. And I said, 'No, actually,' I said ''it wasn't, and I do have cancer.' So yes, so she gave me a hug and she really, she was really quite positive about it and she was, she was then 16. And I had to go in to have the hysterectomy in the middle of her doing her GCSEs. She still had some exams to sit and so, my husband works away, he had to come up and it was my daughter here during the week before I went in supporting me. And she coped really well. And, apparently there was one time when she broke down at school, because, because we didn't tell the school, but then she did then. But she came top of her year in her exams, she got seven A stars and three As in her GCSEs so she was the top girl. So yes, it shows they can cope really. And, and I do think that their view is not as pessimistic as yours and you as an adult, as its happened to you but to them if you say 'I should be OK,' then that's what they believe, and that's what you want them to believe too. So I was pleased.
 

Describes what it was like going back to work after her hysterectomy and suggests doing this...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Going back to work again, I wish I'd gone back part time. I did go and see the occupational therapist but I thought I was going to be fine. And I'd had three months and one week off but I was so tired after the first day, the first full day. I also felt a bit guilty that I'd had too long off but the advice I'd give is don't feel like that because you really don't want to rush back as soon as you can sit at your desk. You, it was psychological as well as physical getting better. And so the fact that the last month I was going out on my bike during the day, I needed that to get stronger because like I say after the first day at work which is an office job I had the following day off as annual leave because I was just so tired. I should really have gone back, phased going back, I should have done like four hours a day for a week, that kind of thing, but I didn't I went back full time.

 

Describes how she was affected by lymphoedema in her leg and that massage and support stocking s...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
So I arranged a holiday just with my husband, going to Tuscany, doing a bit of sightseeing and walking as part of a group. And I'd started going back to the gym after the operation, obviously gradually, and I was doing OK, although my left leg was, it stiffened up when I did exercise. And I told the consultant and he said 'Oh well it could be that your channels are finding new ways,' but he said 'It'll get better.' So I didn't worry too much, or find out very much. And I went on this holiday and it involved doing some walking, obviously and no sooner had I set off walking and my leg began to hurt and over the period of the week, well over a few days it really expanded and it was painful and it was very, it was like it weighed twice as much as the other one. And it made walking difficult, and I didn't know what it was, and so yes I was worried that it was cancer. I just didn't know why it had swollen up so much and it was really tight because it had swollen the skin was really tight, my muscles were tight and I was miserable. And I didn't tell the other people on holiday I'd had cervical cancer because I didn't want to be treated differently. And so I came back from that holiday, which wasn't a holiday. I wanted it to increase my confidence so that I felt like I was getting back to my normal life and I was sort of "normal", and it just did the opposite, it took away my confidence. And I had my normal appointment with the consultant a few days after I came back from holiday and he said 'Oh yes it's the lymph fluid that's collecting there, I'll take it out.' And so he inserted a needle, which wasn't painful, gave me a little local anaesthetic and took out about a coffee cup full of fluid which I'd had in me from going on holiday, which had blocked the whole lymphatic drainage system. So no wonder my leg had swelled up. But I didn't know that, no one had explained to me that this was happening.

I also went to my own GP and said 'my leg has got stiff I'm having problems with it.' And he said 'I'll send you to physiotherapy.' Now the local hospital just down the road contacted me within a few days and made an appointment for me. And they said 'Oh yes, its your lymphatic drainage,' because I told them about having the fluid out and 'We need to massage it,' and I was then going twice a week. But by then I was back to work, so it wasn't easy to go twice a week. I went twice a week for about four weeks and they taught me how to do my own massage, but not lymphatic massage, that's a different thing. It was actually just fairly, fairly vigorous massage but with the onus on going upwards and trying to get the fluid here moving around my body and not accumulating and causing a blockage, like plumbing, they did explain that. And it was good to go really, it did make a difference. And then I went down to see them once a week and I don't go anymore now. I was taught how to do that myself. But at the same time I was waiting to see the lymph nurse and it ended up being about two months. I went to see her and she said well I would need some support stockings, well really just one for my left leg, which compresses your leg and helps the drainage.

 

Describes the range of emotions she felt when she was told she had cancer.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
That I was going to die. I did wonder why me, why this happened to me, I felt sorry for myself. But I've been able to deal with that fairly well because I remember about three or four years ago on television there was some celebrity. I think it was that woman they call The Green Goddess who'd had breast cancer, and I always remember her saying 'Don't think why me, think why not me.' and that really does work. Because the times when I've felt sorry for myself I don't say 'Why's this happened?' I say 'Why not me?' because 'Why not me?' you know. 'Why not me.' So yes it was the worries about that and about pain. If I was going to be in pain and then guilt, guilt for being ill and the effect on the children. Yes, it was them.

Can you say a little more about that guilt?

That if anything happened to me, that if I did die then I would be leaving the children and I think they need a mother. So I didn't, I don't want to hurt them. I don't want to have a bad effect on their lives. I don't know, their welfare is the most important thing. And I think it was how awful it would be to leave them, for them and for me obviously as well, obviously for me, yes.

Previous Page
Next Page