I’m going to start the first in hopefully what will be a series of blogs a lot further along the line than the start of my story. I’m going to rip the plaster off and tell you the worst first. My diagnosis is now of Stage 4 Metastic Cervical Cancer. I will not get the happy day of “the all clear”; this disease will inevitably take my life at some point in the future; my chances of making it for the next few years are incredibly slim. But, I have survived my first year of treatment, I am stronger mentally than I have ever been before, I love harder than I have ever loved before, I laugh with more joy than I ever have before and I live with more passion than I ever thought possible.
So here goes, this is my story…
Just a few days into January 2016 I was sitting in the waiting room of my GP surgery waiting for the doctor to come back to get me. I’d gone in because I just didn’t feel “right” and had pressure “down there” aaallll the time.
Having had a diagnosis of early stage Cervical Cancer 4 years previously I wasn’t taking any chances and thought I was being oh so sensible going to the doctor early. Thank the universe that I did! The doctor took one look inside of me and said “We are going to need to run some tests immediately. Can you go and wait in the waiting room, I don’t want you to leave until I’ve arranged an ultrasound scan and blood tests at the very least for you for asap”. That sentence was the start of my journey.
Within a week I had had the ultrasound scan, noticing a red mark on my file when I went in to have it done, not daring to look at the screen. I remember being sat in that waiting room surrounded by beautiful pregnant ladies thinking I just knew deep down I was never going to be like them. I was called by GP within a couple of days – the results had been fast tracked and the news wasn’t good, there were significant growths over my cervix as well as fallopian tubes, ovaries and down into my womb itself. He had made me an appointment with the gynaecologist for a week’s time.
The morning of the appointment I stood there staring at my knicker drawer trying to decide what pants to wear for this man who was going to be spending a significant amount of time with my most intimate parts over the coming weeks and months! Texting my best friend and my sister saying what did they think would be best. Their replies both the same: “I really don’t think he is going to be interested in your knickers”. My response: “well maybe I might cheer his day up”. This ‘let’s try and see the bright side of this’ has always been my signature style for getting through the worst times and so it made sense that now would be no different. Facing such a life changing situation some people cry, some scream, some go for a run, I make jokes!
3 weeks after having that initial scan I was admitted to have a radical hysterectomy. Within 12 hours I would be infertile and entering into the menopause; I was 28.
“I’m afraid the cancer was more invasive than we initially thought. Upon removing your lymph nodes we found cancerous cells in every one; you are going to need a lot more treatment than we had initially hoped”. I had been told prior to my operation that they were hopeful the hysterectomy and some radiation would do the trick. Now I knew I was in for the long haul…
At this point the doctors staged my cancer as Stage 3 due to the spread to my lymph nodes – big jump from the 2A we’d been expecting – bringing with it a whole host of emotional and physical stresses we hadn’t really prepared ourselves for. I sat in the appointment nodding. I left being positive to my friends and family: this wasn’t going to beat me, we were going to “just” get me some treatment and I’d be back to my old self before they all knew it. I went back into work the next day saying I still wanted to stay in work – I was desperate not to go off sick. All the time inside I was barely breathing, holding on to the reassuring smiles and arms of my loved ones, not daring to give in to my emotions for even a second for fear I’d never come back.
“You are so brave” people said when I told them. What choice did I have; what choice do any of us have when faced with such adversity? We pull our big girl britches up and we get on, that’s what we do! We find that strength we never even knew we had and we fight. And eat cake…