Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2015 Yvonne’s Story

I met Yvonne after being diagnosed with VaIN 3
Here’s her story.

Hi, I’m Yvonne.I’m a 50 year old mother of 2 from Glasgow. In September 2012 I went for a smear test. Nothing was amiss. It was a routine smear that I’d been putting off for a while as I didn’t have time or it was my time of the month or 101 other reason that I’d used to put it off.

The smear test revealed abnormal cells and I had to have a colposcopy. Having no idea what this was I frantically googled and frightened myself silly. I have never done this again. I had several biopsies done during the colposcopy. These returned as extensive CIN 3 (carcinoma in situ) and VAIN 3. I met with a gynae oncologist who performed an examination under anaesthetic and took multiple biopsies which again returned as CIN and VAIN but because of the large area that they covered I was to have a hysterectomy and a vaginectomy with a new vagina made from skin grafted from my thigh. This was done in May 2013. I had a follow up appointment on the 22nd May…my birthday. I was healing really well. I had cancer. Pathology had found a tumour inside my cervix and a tumour behind my vaginal wall. I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix stage 1b1 and glandular adenocarcinoma of the vagina stage 1b2. I was to meet with a clinical oncologist to discuss treatment.

Treatment was decided. 25 external radiotherapy, 5 days a week for 5 weeks. 5 rounds of chemotherapy, once a week for 5 weeks and 3 brachytherapy (internal radiotherapy). I dreaded the chemo more than anything but it was okish it was the radiotherapy that I had real issues with. I had panic attacks before each treatment and horrible bladder and bowel problems that continue to this day.

I am now 14 months post treatment and cancer free! I have lymphoedema in my ankles and groin, I have no vagina as the radiotherapy fried the skin grafts, I have bowel and bladder problems and I have constant hip and back pain but I don’t have cancer and it feels wonderful. If I was still procrastinating about going for my smear I would not be cancer free. I would be extremely ill as the cancer would’ve been steadily growing and who knows where it would have spread to by now. If one person goes for a smear because of reading this I will be delighted. ThAnkara for reading.

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Aloe Vera Juice.

Picture had to be removed. Upset someone. Hey ho. I’ll type out the post when I’ve got the time.

I’ve steered away from writing about this subject. Even now I feel I need to add some sort of disclaimer. I do not wish to offend anyone but it’s something I need to get off my chest.

Today a brave lady had a rant on A facebook cervical cancerforum. She vented about how irritating she found people who tried to shove ‘natural cures’ down her throat.

It’s been a good while since my diagnosis but I remember well my inbox being flooded with ‘suggestions’ for super foods, supplements etc from well meaning friends and family.

I know their intent was good. But it was at best annoying and at worst upsetting. At a time when you seem to have a season ticket at the hospital to be told that eating a certain type of (insert food type of choice here) would ‘help’, quite frankly didn’t.

The brave ladies post descended, as these things do, into a flurry of ‘ah but my aunties sisters budgies nephew was cured by burying a shiny penny at noon on last Friday of a lunar eclipse’

I worked in a health food shop many moons ago. One of our best sellers was Rescue Remedy. A little brown bottle with a glass pipette with extracts from different plants that you matched to your ‘ailment’. Customers swore by it. It calmed their nerves. They bought many different varieties. The main ingredient of Rescue Remedy? Brandy. Buy a bottle of brandy and plant a tree I’m sure it will bring you more joy!

It breaks my heart to hear friends (and I’m painfully aware that some of you will be reading this) paying out their money for ‘cures’. I hope they work and I hope you are not being manipulated by a marketing ruse fuelled by fear.

The next point is religion. I’m still undecided about my thoughts on God. That’s ok. I know many people prayed for me and I’m thankful. But please don’t tell me to pray. Don’t tell me that if I believe in God everything will be ok. I will make my own mind up thank you.

So, I felt I had to respond in some way to this conversation on the forum. My response is above. People seemed to like it!

Cancer is cancer. It can be prevented (and boy don’t I beat myself up over that one) and it can be cured; sometimes.

I have found my way through and I hope in the process I’ve not TOLD anyone what to do to get them through theirs. Please offer me the same.

Maybe you are right and I am the cynical one.