When I was 28 I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer Glassy Cell Stage 2B, so called because it looks like glass under the microscope.
My story starts about half a year before diagnosis though. For about 6 months I was bleeding continually and despite it getting stronger and stronger I just put it down to stress – I had two young children, a loving husband, two successful businesses and we were moving house.
After the house move in August I registered with a new GP and made an appointment. I was told that bleeding was normal when you have the coil but I was upset because I knew something was wrong.
A few weeks later I had a massive blood clot. Panicked, I called the GP practise and spoke to a nurse who got me sent for an ultrasound straight away. Following that ultrasound, I was sent for a genealogical appointment where it was suggested that I have a biopsy of my cervix. Only then did I realise it could be something quite serious.
I had a biopsy in December of that year, which felt like a long time to wait, but I kept myself busy with work and the kids. I found out the results that day and doctors told me that it couldn’t be anything else – it was cervical cancer. I was told that they needed to do more tests, I would need radiotherapy and possibly chemotherapy. I was advised that having radiotherapy in that area would most likely cause early menopause, so no more kids.
With all that new information to digest I had to have a PET scan and a CT scan. After which, they told me to scrap everything, “it’s really rare and we’ve never treated it before,” and they had no clue if they could cure it.
That drive home I cried and screamed to my husband “I’m going to die, I’m going to die.” It was the worst day of my life.
Glassy Cell is so rare that there is very little information about it anywhere. My doctors found a case study of a young lady who is still cancer free 5 years on. My treatment plan was to be based on hers. It was all very nerve wracking as we didn’t really know what to expect.
I had 5 cycles of chemotherapy and 25 sessions of radiotherapy alongside each other, so I was in Canterbury Hospital every day for five weeks. Then I moved to Maidstone Hospital to have brachytherapy. It was there that I found out about YouCan and other support for younger people with cancer. That was a really good day and gave me something to look forward to.
Just before my third brachytherapy I got really ill and was stuck in hospital for a week with sepsis. That was quite a low point for me but I wasn’t ready to reach out and ask for help at that stage. After I recovered I had my third and final brachytherapy, after which I had a scan to see what was going on. Whilst the tumour had shrunk it hadn’t disappeared altogether so it was decided that I would have a hysterectomy.
I had the operation and was so excited about being cancer free that I didn’t really think about the life changing side effects that the doctors discussed with me. When I woke up I was in agony, upset and bed bound for two days. When my mum took me home with just a bag of medication I couldn’t laugh, stand or sit up without being in enormous pain. The operation took a long time for me to recover from and was extremely traumatic for me in itself.
A couple of weeks later I met with my oncologist who told me I was in remission. I thought I was going to feel happy but he reminded me that these rare cancers can come back so I left feeling quite deflated. Only then I realised I needed some emotional support. Despite the fact that the tumour was no longer there, this cancer journey was far from over for me. I’ve never really understood mental health but after this life changing experience, particularly whilst recovering from my operation, I started to understand how important it is to look after your mental health and how impactful it can be.
YouCan’s events gave me something to look forward to after my treatment was over. Their Christmas party was excellent, so much fun. The kids came too and had a wonderful time which made me very happy.
YouCan’s support group, Freddie’s Friends, gave me the opportunity to meet young people with cancer face to face for the first time. It’s such a welcoming group and seeing other young people with cancer meant I didn’t feel so alone. I now feel ready to get some extra help and I’m grateful that there is a charity with such a range of resources and help.