Cervical Cancer and Pap Smears

March 2017 – The Letter below is from someone who wanted to let people know about Cervical Cancer and Pap Smears, it is a very poignant piece and has the writer’s permission to reproduce it –

I wanted to do an informative piece today about Cervical Cancer as I have seen some recent letters about it, sadly being caught too late for some younger ladies, as they were not routinely screened until they were 25.

I have found out much information recently about this type of cancer and wanted to say that Pap Smears are very important and pick up about 90% of cases (this type is extremely slow growing and typically takes 5 or 6 years to become cancer) but the other 10% are not caused by HPV virus and so are NOT detected by a Pap Smear

If you have symptoms don’t presume it could possibly be Cervical Cancer because even though you have regular screening and I had a pelvic ultrasound which showed nothing of cancer but symptoms persisted and another a few months later showed advanced cancer (but showed inconclusive on Pap Smear!).  Pelvic pain, irregular discharge and bleeding all need checking out.  Although I did persist and got checked out again, I could have easily left it and presume all was well.  I don’t want to worry anyone, as I said this type is pretty rate, but information is power.

October 2017  Continuation blog about the way things are progressing and how she feels

As I’ve said before I have been using Facebook to blog my thoughts and progress through my diagnosis and treatment.  This is to keep everyone in the loop but also to look back on in the future.  Today’s post is a long one as I have now had some time to catch my breath and reflect on what I have learned over the last 7 months:  We are stronger than we think we are.  When you are faced with a battle like this we find a strength and bravery, a calmness and determination that we didn’t know we had.

Chemotherapy really is brutal, it can drop you to your knees and leave you with permanent damage to your body.  I have been left with nerve damage to my hands and feet and Tinnitus.  Obviously the alternative is much worse but I wasn’t aware this can happen.

Your attitude is your choice and will shape how you approach a challenge.  Positivity can really help you get through tough experiences.  This doesn’t mean there won’t be times you’ll fall apart due to the pure terror of the situation but it will help you face each day with a smile.

Telling my family that I have Cancer was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Rightly or wrongly I was (and still am) filled with guilt for upsetting and scaring them and ultimately changing their world’s too.

The kindness of so many people, including strangers, has been humbling and heart warming.  So many people really put themselves out to help my family and I.  Lifts to hospital when I was exhausted,  meals for my family, a never ending stream of flowers, company on long hospital days, the list goes on……

Life Changing is definitely a label I’d use regarding this year to date.  Everything has changed and nothing will be the same again.  Our attitude to life is different now, making memories is the name of the game, also my advice would be to try not to sweat the small stuff and enjoy each day as much as possible.  Nothing is guaranteed for any of us in life so try to do what make you happy and, if you can, do the things on your ‘one day’ list as soon as you are able.

Chemo brain is definitely a thing, think Dory from Finding Nemo!

This one is hard to write as it isn’t my nature but there have been a few people that have surprised me by not supporting us or keeping in touch in a way I thought they would.  I have spent time making excuses in my mind for them but have realised that when so many people, including strangers, have done so much to help us and show they care then there really is no excuse.  I know the world doesn’t revolve around me but I also know what I would be doing if roles were reversed.  It hurts but it’s a lesson learned.

Making major plans for the present and future ‘just in case’ is necessary but also hugely confronting.  Probably something we should all think about if we’re honest but not something we had personally spoken about.  I have found this an important part of the process for my on-going peace of mind but also found it to be very hard on the soul.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and how resilient and brilliant my husband and children are and I’ve made some lovely new friends.

I won’t know for a couple of months how I’ve gone on, so please send positive vibes/prayers etc. in the meantime.

Love to you all xxxx

Spring 2018

One year ago I wrote this post on Facebook telling everyone I had been diagnosed with Cancer.  I remember how hard it was to write as it made it all real but I’d decided to use Facebook as a blog to keep everyone informed but also to look back on in the future.  As I wrote it I had no idea how things would pan out, what the treatment would entail and what the outcome would be. 

So much has happened in the year since and it was lovely to look back on all the amazing messages.  A year on, I have learnt so much.  I now know a lot about cancer treatment and terminology, I also know that after such aggressive treatment my body will never be the same, I have learnt what’s important in life and I try to get the best out of every day.  I give myself permission to have ‘bad dats’ without feeling guilty – yes I beat it but I am traumatised by the experience and the worry everyday about it returning and feeling again the terror of possibly having to leave my family behind.  But mostly, I am thankful for everyone who contributed to my recovery (medical staff, family and friends) and for all the future opportunities I now have.