Diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1991. Internal Radiotherapy followed by External Radiotherapy.
She attended her regular cervical smear appointment, which showed abnormal cells;. A diagnosis of cervical cancer was made after a second smear test, two biopsies, a colposcopy and a cone biopsy.
She was never too worried about her prognosis, and treated the cancer as a problem that needed to be solved. She didn’t seek any extra information about cervical cancer as she felt she didn’t need it.
The doctors decided on a course of radiotherapy as the best treatment, and she was pleased that she didn’t have to have surgery. She found the internal radiotherapy very unpleasant, especially as she had to lie flat without moving for a long time, and this exacerbated her back pain. The radiotherapy made her feel quite weak, and she initially had some bowel problems which lasted for a few years but have now resolved.
She had just received the all clear; and was discharged from hospital follow-up, which was a great relief to her.
She hadn’t realised that the treatment would cause her to go into the menopause. It came as a massive shock to her when she was told, and she was very angry at the time because she didn’t feel that she was told that this would happen. It made her feel as though she wasn’t a full woman, which was difficult at the time.
Having to take HRT after radiotherapy was one of the worst things about the experience, as it gave her several side effects, including prolonged vaginal bleeding, weakness, and what she described as a loss of brain balance;. She decided to stop taking the HRT and has been feeling a lot better since.
She doesn’t really think about having had cancer, and feels as if it was an episode in her life that she has moved on from. Her message to others is to have themselves checked regularly as she didn’t experience any symptoms prior to her cancer diagnosis, and it was only picked up due to the cervical screening programme.