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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