How my story begins: I was due for my smear in January 2021 and it came back HPV positive normal cells; January 2022 repeated it and it came back high grade cells, HPV positive. In March, I had a colposcopy under general anesthesia to remove the "pre cancer" tissue. Then in April I had a hospital appointment to be told it was not pre-cancer cells but it was high grade squamous cell cervical cancer and it was aggressive type.
Life before my diagnosis: My life was normal; work and family.
How I felt after diagnosis: I was numb, scared, feeling alone and most of all I was angry.
Telling my family and friends: I called my mom to come into the room to carry on the conversation with the oncologist the day I was told. I felt guilty I was putting her through this but I needed support.
My family new the same day, and my 10 year old daughter was told too. As they were being told, I felt guilty I was upsetting them and putting them through this, putting them through what I was feeling.
My treatment: September 5, 2022 on my 33rd birthday, I had a full hysterectomy leaving just my ovaries. In March 2023 I had HPV screening and a vault test and it came back negative for both. And in September, I had a colpscopy and everything looked normal. I have an appointment for another HPV screening and colposcopy in March 2024.
How I felt after treatment: When I woke up from my hysterectomy I instantly felt not my self, I could feel a part of me was missing, I felt "barren" and I felt less of a women. I felt sad and angry that a part of me was taken and a part of me died because of cancer.
I really wanted the hysterectomy to put everything behind me, but that's not the end... I still have to have tests just incase vaginal cancer starts.
What was most difficult for me: Change. It turned my life upside down, and people were messaging and wanted to speak to me and felt awkward. I could tell they felt sorry for me and I did not want sympathy; I just wanted to be treated normal.
What I did to help myself: I found it very hard on Easter 2022 so I started taking Escitaloprám which made me feel so much better. I was always a half empty glass person but now I feel you need to look for positives, any positive, to cling on to. I felt better by sharing my story on social media to tell people how important screening is so others do not go through what I am going through.
My life after cancer: I don't take things as serious as I used to. Things that don't matter anyway; like making sure all the cleaning round the house is immaculate, all washing done, I just think I'll do it when I do it and it can wait. I have realized that little things don't matter anymore.
Where I am today: I am still having down days here and there. Sometimes I find it hard to feel like the old me, it has changed me, mostly emotionally. I make sure I tell my girls and my husband every night that I love them before I go to sleep. The friends and family who helped me through my journey, I am forever grateful to and especially my big sister Michelle for holding my hands through my appointments
What I want other women to know: They are not alone. I had so much support from I'm A Cervivor! and from other cervical cancer pages on social media - we're in this together!
How I will try to help others: To spread awareness on HPV and cervical cancer. I felt ashamed of having HPV. Because some people say it's through having multiple sexual partners but I don't believe that. I encourage women to attend cervical screening on time, and speak up when they don't think something is right below the belt and get that screening done! It saves lives and it saved mine.