How my story begins: I had a happy life, a mother to 3 children - two daughters and one son. I also have a gorgeous granddaughter. Although my health wasn't brilliant, I was undergoing tests for that and it was looking better.
I had spent most of 2014 being run down and treated for anemia, undergoing various tests. Then it was decided I should have an iron transfusion in December of 2014. During this, I had started to notice slight spotting for a few months so made an appointment to have a smear test (Pap) done after Christmas holidays passed. So in January 2015, that's where it all beings. After the smear test, within 2 weeks I was heading for a colposcopy. Then 2 weeks after that, I was given the news it was cancer. I had MRIs and CTs. This is where I was told it was stage 1b1.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt like I wasn't living my own life. It had been taken over by appointments. I hardly slept, spent most of my time trying not to think about it. But in reality, I spent most of my time thinking about it, panicking, freaking and wondering how to tell my two youngest children.
Telling my family and friends: Only my oldest daughter knew right from the smear test what was going on. I then told my partner and parents about the colposcopy. Just before the results of that, I told my siblings and a couple of close friends. I didn't tell my youngest 2 until I had a treatment plan in place and had some solid information. I wanted to explain it properly to them so they didn't think when I went away I was going to die, so they had hope.
My treatment: I had a radical hysterectomy and as it was staged 1b1. That should have been enough as there was no node involvement, but that got thrown in the air when they biopsied the tumour and it was neurodendocrine. My diagnosis then changed to neuroendocrine adenocarcinoma, a rare form of cervical cancer. So my treatment changed to also having chemotherapy and brachytherapy to be on the safe side that the tumour hadn't 'fired off' any cancer cells that would be undetectable in surgery but would be destroyed by further treatment.
During chemo I had a relatively easy ride with side effects. My nurses quickly found the right combination of anti-sickness and pain relief. My mouth was so sore but I was given a pain relieving mouth wash. Everything tasted awful. I never fully recovered after each round of chemo so had to inject myself with immune boosters to encourage my blood to recover. I went into immediate menopause, which is not fun at all waking up every 2 hours for 1 hour because of night sweats. Hot flushes through the day weren't fun either. Once my treatment finished and settled, I was started on low dose HRT and worked up to the level that works best for me.
Brachytherapy was an eye-opener. It was very uncomfortable but not sore at the time, and it is done quickly week after week with no long breaks.
How I felt after treatment: Since treatment ended, I have felt lost, on my own, depressed, sore...always in pain now, but relieved that it was over.
What was most difficult for me: The most difficult thing for me was trying to act like I was okay, like I wasn't in pain for everyone else. I wanted to make sure my kids didn't suffer any longer than they had to.
What I did to help myself: I spoke to my GP, who was great. She started my on various meds to help me cope and feel better about life again. They don't always work! But I'm getting there.
My life after cancer: I haven't worked since, I find the simplest of things difficult. Some days getting out of bed is a really tough job, both mentally and physically. If I have a bad physical day, guaranteed it will be a tough mental day.
Where I am today: Cancer didn't kill me, but it killed the person I used to be!
What I want other women to know: Don't be tough on yourself when you hear other people's journeys. We are all individuals for our journeys are individual. Take one day at a time and try to relax as much as possible on the lead up to those 6 month check-ups.
How I will try to help others: I have done articles for local papers, raised funds for cervical cancer charities and shared lots of information on social media... probably to the annoyance of my social media friends (ha ha!).