As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (20 - 26 January 2013) I am featuring the stories of real women who want to share their experience with Cervical Cancer.
Mary Lewis is a Cervical Cancer survivor. Here she shares her incredible journey with us :
It was August 2009 and my cervical smear test was due. I went along, had it and thought no more about it. I had just been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis and had a bladder distension done so when a letter from the hospital arrived, I again, didn't think much about it. Inside, however, was an appointment for the Colposcopy clinic as my routine smear test had shown some abnormal cells.
I went along to the appointment and my Husband, Dylan, came with me. I had some biopsies taken and the Consultant informed me that it looked like I had some pre cancerous cells. He told me cells take years to change into anything serious. He noted as I had recently had surgery he would book me in for a general anaesthetic and remove the cells.
Two weeks passed, Dylan and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary (we got married in 2007 after 14 years together and a 13 year old son) and all three of us went to Scotland for a few days. When we returned on Friday I got a call from the clinic asking me to return on Monday. The Secretary told me the Consultant wanted to have another look.
Monday came and we returned to the clinic. I felt scared, even more so when the Consultant came to the waiting room to get me. We went into a room with a Nurse and he told me - I had Cancer. I didn't hear much of what he said as I felt like I was in a tunnel.
He wanted to take more biopsies to be sure and made me an appointment, with the Gynae-oncology team for two days time. The rest of the day passed in a daze. We rang close family and friends and listened to a lot of tears.
I have Cancer.
I can't believe it.
Further tests, appointments, scans (MRI / CT), bloods, x-rays and a procedure under anaesthetic to measure my tumour, followed. I was booked in for a Radical Hysterectomy which would involve the removal of my Uterus, Cervix, Ovaries, Pelvic tissue, Lymph Nodes and the top of my Vagina. The whole time I had Dylan at my side. We cried together. We laughed together. We supported our 15 year old son as best as we could.
The day of my surgery dawned and we went to the Admissions Ward. A few hours later I was injected with a radioactive dye into my Cervix. This would show the Surgeon what Lymph Nodes to remove and was a procedure only used in Cervical Cancer at my local hospital and a London clinic. It is called Sentinel and had been used for years in Breast Cancer surgery.
I was taken for a scan and moved to the ward. Finally I was taken to theatre. I sobbed. Dylan sobbed. The Nurses sobbed! I was whisked away to the anaesthetics room and given a sedative first, to calm me down. The next thing I remember was being woken in recovery and being told my operation had lasted six hours. The Surgeon had completed the whole operation via keyhole surgery.
I recovered with not many problems, but then just before Christmas 2009, I was told that they had found Cancer in one of the Lymph Nodes they had removed. They told me they wanted me to have five cycles of Chemotherapy and 25 cycles of Radiotherapy. I agreed and the treatment begin in February 2010. It was absolutely awful. Words can not describe how ill I felt.
Now, three years on I am Cancer free, but I have been left with a few problems. My hip has deep scarring from the Radiotherapy and I sometimes need to use a stick to walk. To add to the Interstitial Cystitis I now also have Radiation Cystitis for which I receive a Bladder infusion every month, along with daily medication. I am also currently recovering from surgery as my Colon stopped working, possibly because of the adhesions from the Radiotherapy.
However, I am 40 this year. I got to see my baby boy turn 18. I am still alive. I am so thankful for my Cervical Screening. If my test had been six months later I would not have survived, so I count myself lucky.
I have met some very brave women on my journey, sadly some are no longer with us and some have advanced Cancer.
Please use Cervical Cancer Prevention week to encourage every female you know to have their Cervical Screening. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but let me tell you Cancer and the following treatment is far worse.
If you would like to find out more about Mary and her journey please visit her blog http://maryloucancerjourney.blogspot.com.
You can also follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/MaryAnneLewis and
For more information on Cervical Cancer :