Interview CC08

Age at interview: 42
Age at diagnosis: 36
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with cervical cancer in1996. External Radiotherapy followed by Internal Radiotherapy.
Background: Personal Assistant, married, 3 children.

More about me...


She explains why she found her radiotherapy planning upsetting.

The radiotherapy planning wasn't nice at all, I didn't feel the staff were very friendly, they weren't very nice, they were horrible to me. And I was there for about 3, 3' hours, I remember, the whole afternoon. I'd asked if my daughter could come through and watch, I said "She's a St. John Ambulance member and she'll sit quietly and she's almost a grown up girl." And no she had to wait outside. So I was sort of thinking this is uncomfortable and they want me to keep still and they keep measuring things and doing things and it was a very high bed and it was a long time and I was also worried about [my daughter] being outside because although she was sort of grown-up and sensible I just felt it was unfair to leave her there and I wanted to say "Look Mum's alright." So I came out of there finally and I said "Look [daughter's name]," I said " we can't go anywhere, the day is all messed up and I feel really sorry and everybody was just horrible to me." I said "I'm going home now." And they said "Oh you can't, you've got to go back downstairs to the radiotherapy department and you've got to see one of the doctors there and he's got the paperwork." So I went down and I sat and waited.

Explains that she consulted her GP having noticed bleeding after sexual intercourse and he...

I suppose one of the very first things I'd say is that I have always, always had regular smear tests, every three years on the dot. I was 18 months between smears. I'd had one that was clear and 18 months later I found some bleeding after intercourse. And I suppose because of working in the NHS and reading things and perhaps knowing more than my neighbour would know I panicked and I thought I've got cancer. And my husband was sort of very supportive but he was thinking I was being alarmist and I was diagnosing myself and that I shouldn't read all these leaflets and I perhaps shouldn't know too much."Let's go to the doctor and see what he says." So I went along to [my doctor] up at [the surgery] and he referred to me [consultant]over at the [hospital]

Did he do any tests or examinations then?

No, no he talked to me and he referred me over. And it was a very quick appointment, I can remember things happened remarkably quickly. And that worried me as well because not a lot in the NHS happens quickly.


Not being given an explanation for why she needed to sign a form caused her unnecessary distress.

I've never experienced it with another doctor before, I've never seen it before. And to me it's one of the most biggest things that's ever happened in my life and for that doctor not to be able to have the time to show me what this yellow form was about and to see what I was signing was just diabolical I think. 

Because I think when you're having an operation you just say "Oh we're going to take this tooth out and you're signing for the anaesthetic," but er they couldn't be bothered. And I'm not just a piece of meat, I know people often say that expression with doctors and surgeons that they see you as just a lump of a body there, that they're going to do something to. But it's such a big massive important thing in my life that I didn't just want to just sign this yellow form. 

But I'd caused so much upset, I'd upset myself, I'd upset my husband, I'd upset my daughter because I wouldn't sign it. But you know I just felt I wasn't going to be bullied that afternoon by this doctor. When he was treating me wrong it was sort of, I suppose the upset and everything got hold of me, but I didn't actually tell him off or call his superior, I just refused to sign it and said I wanted to go home and started crying (laughs).

She didn't want to accept her diagnosis and felt angry because she had gone for regular smears.

I was angry and I felt it wasn't fair. Had I never ever been for a smear in my life I would've have thought well tough you've brought this on yourself and maybe if you'd been, you wouldn't be in this mess now. But when I'd been very diligent and it was just 18 months ago that it was totally clear, to suddenly have a tumour. I felt it was grossly unfair, I didn't want it.

It was the fact that I didn't want to hear it, I didn't want to think about it, I didn't want to accept it. I'd always been proper, I'd done the smear tests and everything has alwaysbeen fine and 18 months isn't very long from having an absolutely clear smear test tosuddenly having a tumour is what I felt. So it was sort of a not believing and not wantingto accept.

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