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I was told I had a golfball-sized tumour: stage 2b cervical cancer

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Jasmine Carter was 26 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Treatment put her into early menopause. How did she cope? 

I was due for my first smear test in 2018, at the age of 25. I was pregnant with my second child at the time, so I planned to have it done a few months after he was born. I still hadn’t booked it in by March 2019when I started to experience light spotting after sex. My son was six months old by this time. I knew spotting was a symptom of cervical cancer but I brushed it off  I thought maybe I still hadn’t completely healed after what had been a difficult birth.  

Over the next few months, I started having light bleeding between periods, along with cramps and lowerback discomfort. I thought it was my body getting used to being back on the contraceptive pill. Then, one morning in June 2019, I started bleeding very heavily  huge clots were coming away. I remember sitting on the bathroom floor, crying: I just knew it was cervical cancer. 

The heavy bleeding carried on almost every day for the next three months – even just picking up my son made it so much worse. I was so worried that I barely left the house. Finally, the bleeding eased and I went straight to my GP – not soon enough, I know, but I was so afraid about what was wrong. Now realise that its crucial to get that amount of bleeding checked out as soon as possible 

My GP tried to do a smear test, but I bled so heavily it was impossible. Instead, she gave me an urgent cancer referral. 

A couple of weeks later, I had a biopsy under general anaesthetic. The same day, my consultant told me it looked suspicious. On November 1, 2019, got the news that I had a golfball-sized tumour: stage 2b cervical cancer. I cried with relief – it might sound odd, but I had convinced myself it was going to be untreatable.   

Just a few weeks aftediagnosis, I started treatment: 25 sessions of radiotherapy, five sessions of chemotherapy and three sessions of brachytherapy. I made the decision not to have my eggs harvested as Im lucky enough to have two children already – I just wanted to focus on getting better.  

The first couple of radiotherapy sessions were emotionally tough, trying to get my head around the fact I would be going to hospital almost every day for the next five weeks. I was lucky: I got through my treatment without being too poorly. I did suffer from fatigue, and the radiotherapy caused bladder and bowel issues, but these have now improved. I needed a blood transfusion during chemo because of anaemia but other than that, I had no side effects. 

On New Year’s Eve 2019, I had my first brachytherapy session. It was something I had never heard of and the thought of it was daunting, but the radiographers and nurses were incredible. For each session, I had general anaesthetic. Tubes were inserted into my uterus, and radiation was delivered direct to the affected area. 

The brachytherapy ended in January 2020 and almost immediately I went into menopause. I was 26. There were hot flushes and night sweats galore. Sometimes, knowing I can’t have any more babies really upsets me, but I also realise how incredibly lucky I am to have my two wonderful children. 

For eight months I struggled with symptoms. My doctors hadn’t discussed HRT with me – they were solely focused on treating the cancerThe hot flushes and night sweats were bad, and also became very forgetful. After doing some research, I realised how important HRT is for bone health: being young and already having weakened bones from radiotherapy, I was at serious risk of osteoporosis. 

I have been using oestrogen gel, which I rub onto my arms at night, for four months now. Im also taking a progesterone tablet, as I still have my womb  using oestrogen alone could put me at higher risk of developing womb cancer.  

The difference in how I’m feeling is amazing: the hot flushes have disappeared, along with the night sweats, and I am mentally so much better, too. I am thinking more clearly, my concentration has improved and I am less forgetful. The hip stiffness and pain I was experiencing have also lessened. 

My latest scan results show no evidence of cancer and I feel so much more positive about my future. I hope one day I can help other woman in similar situations to me. 

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Meg's Quote

If you are depressed,
you are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
you are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
you are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu –

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