Interview CC17

Age at interview: 35
Age at diagnosis: 34
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with cervical cancer (Stage 2 squamous cell) in 2001. Wertheim's hysterectomy. External Radiotherapy six weeks after her hysterectomy because cancer cells had escaped from one lymph node.
Background: Housewife; married, 2 children.

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She wanted to have another child and found it difficult when others didn't understand why she was...

I mean initially as I say I found it very hard but it was really, that is really hard because I found it hard as a woman that that was gonna be all taken away from me. Plus the fact that I was gonna have a child which made it even worse as well. But I found that there wasn't really many people in family and friends that I could talk to about it because they were all saying '[patient's name] you shouldn't even be thinking about that, you had cancer and its got to be taken away. You know its your health and everything and you've got to get it all you know, put it in perspective.' And I'm saying 'Well yeah I appreciate that but I've got this other upset as well that I can't have kids anymore.' And other people couldn't, certainly couldn't appreciate what I felt and so it did take me a while. 

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One year after treatment she copes with fears of recurrence by thinking positively.

I don't think about it on a day to day basis now and I think to myself, I think the radiotherapy's sorted it out. So hopefully it won't come back. And that's how I view it. I think I'm fine and that's all you can say. You can't think oh well I'm fine, what about in another year. You can only go on a day, well I feel fine now. So if it did come back I would have to deal with it, I'd have to deal with it. There's nothing else you can do. You have to deal with it and say well right, what'll happen now and I would have thought it would be chemo and radio, whatever, but I don't think I'm gonna die, I don't think I'm gonna die. I think these things are very curable now and think calmly, definitely think calmly rather than panicking straightaway.

She describes her external radiotherapy.

But yeah the radiotherapy actually only lasts for about perhaps four minutes because what they do is do it on these exact spots. I had it there at the sides and at the front and underneath, all around that kind of area. Perhaps for a minute at a time and [the nurses would] go away behind a screen sort of thing. You were in this room on your own and then they'd turn the machine off, they'd come back, move the machine so they knew where to do it again the next time, get the exact measurements and sort of set it on again for thirty seconds to a minute or whatever it was. And then they'd go away, come back again, that would be about four times. And you would obviously take your clothes off while you were having the treatment. So sort of measuring up depending on who you got can be a five-minute thing or a fifteen-minute things. So, but that's, its, radiotherapy in itself its not much to worry about its just the side effects really.

Describes the panic she felt when she was told she needed further treatment.

And when he sort of sat me down and said 'Unfortunately it had spread,' you sort of panic again then. Because once they said 'its spread' you think I'm gonna die. You start all over again, you feel like you've gone backwards and you think God it's starting all over again, its bad news again, every time I heard something it was bad news. So I said ' Well what does that mean?' He said 'Well unfortunately now you're going to have to have radiotherapy depending on where its gone because obviously,' he says, 'we don't know,' he says 'if it has spread but its got out of the cells of one of your lymph glands and it has escaped.' He says 'Its broke through and escaped so therefore that's suggesting that it has, so we need to be sure and give you some radiotherapy. 

Which I got really upset about because I thought well hold on a minute now I've just gone through this great big operation which lasted four and a half hours, which is a little bit less than what he said. He said I might have to have a blood transfusion, all kinds of things, all kinds of things like that and it's a huge scar I've got. And he's saying now I've got to have this radiotherapy, I wish I'd plumbted for the chemo and the radio, because he said it was the radiotherapy which could cause all the damage where you may need a bag on and it affects your sex life and all these kinds of things. And I thought I've just had this great big operation that's going to take me three months to get over or whatever and now I've got to have the radiotherapy. 

She couldn't wear trousers for six months because of her lymphoedema.

It's surprising, because its swollen as well you can't get in your trousers. I could wear skirts but the trousers just couldn't bear anything on, around the scar area. But obviously as time progressed a little bit I was able to wear trousers but certainly not jeans. Oh God no, anything tight like that, it was, well I couldn't, just couldn't, couldn't even zip it, oh it was horrible. So it's taken me what, we're into March, it's taken me a good ten months to be able to not feel a lot of pain so I could wear the jeans. Because obviously jeans aren't giving are they, they're denim, they're thick material so yes I'm quite sort of pleased that I can get a pair of jeans on again. It sounds daft but its amazing. I was a trouser wearing person and for oh gosh a good six months I only wore skirts. So it affected, even that affected me. It might sound something and nothing but it does affect you. It does affect you and the swelling, very, very uncomfortable. 
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