Wednesday, 23 January 2013

#CCPW - Real Life : Naomi's Journey

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.
Naomi Willmott, 39 from Bristol is a trained Support Group Leader for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.  She decided she wanted to be part of a charity supporting women with cervical cancer and cell abnormalities after her own personal experience with the disease.  Here she shares her story :


In 2004, after a routine smear, I had a result of CIN3 which is the severest of cell abnormalities before they turn into cancer.  I was 30 and had two sons.  The two weeks between the result and the treatment were awful, wondering how severe the abnormalities were, thinking about living with cancer. 
Luckily, after a loop cone biopsy I was given the all clear with the cells being successfully removed.  I felt incredibly lucky and was put into the six month screening programme.  Unfortunately my encounter with cervical cancer didn't end there.
At my wedding in 2007, my best friend Sarah told me she had been suffering from bleeding and was due to see the doctor.  I told her it was probably nothing to worry about and that I'd look forward to catching up with her after my honeymoon.  Two weeks later I returned and she asked me to visit her straight away.  It was here she told me she had cervical cancer.
Sarah had been my best friend since childhood.  Both professional singers we had spent hours singing in our bedrooms.  Hearing this news was devastating, not least because it was around the same time Jade Goody was going through treatment, but I wanted to stay strong for her.
She started chemotherapy and radiotherapy and I saw her regularly throughout.  A year after diagnosis I went on holiday again and once more on my return I received a phone call.  It was bad news.  Sarah had been given just three months to live.  I couldn't quite believe it, she still seemed so full of life, despite all the treatment.  She also had two children, a ten year old daughter and a 17 year old son.  It couldn't be happening.
In October 2008, it was almost three months to the day when Sarah passed away in St.Peters Hospice.  I saw her the night before.  It was this moment I thought I had to do something to help other women going through this and  raise awareness of a disease that can be prevented.  I promised Sarah that night her legacy would continue.
A friend and I organised a charity night in Sarah's memory the following June.  We raised an amazing £8000, part of which was donated to St.Peters Hospice. I wanted to donate the other portion to a charity that dealt with cervical cancer.  It was only when I googled this that Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust appeared. 
I had never heard of the charity but after hearing about the support and information that it offered to women affected by both cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer, I was more than happy to donate our proceeds.  The money went towards their annual get together for women affected by cervical cancer called 'Let's Meet'.
I wanted to continue to support other women and so in November 2011 I was trained by the charity to be a Support Group Leader.  I now lead a support group in the South West for women affected by cervical cancer.
For more information on cervical cancer and cell abnormalities visit the Jo's Trust website.

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