I was diagnosed with cervical cancer nearly 3 years ago. It had been eight years since my last Pap smear so thankfully I’m now a cancer survivor.
I had no signs or symptoms and it was during labour with my son, at Geelong Hospital in August 2013, that the doctors thought they could feel something abnormal on my cervix as I wasn’t dilating quick enough – my 1st born daughter’s labour was really quick just under 3 hours & usually 2nd child is a bit quicker. They told me: “Today you’re having a baby, so we won’t worry about it now. But you’ll need to come back in a few weeks to have it checked out.” My labour ended up being around 11 ½ hours.
When my son was about 7 weeks old, I went back to the Geelong hospital outpatients and had a Pap smear. In early October 2013, the doctors called me and told me I had cervical cancer. I was only 31 at the time and with two young children, my newborn son & my 21 month old girl, I couldn’t believe it, I thought I’m too young to get cancer.
I was then referred to the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne then I got referred on to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne where I underwent a number of tests - MRI, CT scan and PET scan - to see if the tumour had spread. These tests found a 5 centimetre tumour on my cervix – the doctors couldn’t believe that I had managed to conceive and give birth naturally with this tumour obstructing my cervix.
The tumour was inoperable, doctors told me that if treatment didn’t work there was nothing else they could do for me, so I started treatment in November 2013. The first part of my treatment was external radiation, Monday to Friday and some Saturdays, which only went for a couple of minutes at a time. I also had low-dose chemotherapy once a week, for 6 weeks. Once I finished this treatment, I then had internal radiation twice a week, for 2 weeks. For my first internal radiation session, I was put under both spinal and general anaesthetic, and then had an MRI. The MRI showed the tumour had shrunk to just a small dot on the scan. My doctors, as well as my family, were thrilled with the results.I continued with the internal radiation three more times and finished treatment in mid January 2014.
I was on 6 monthly checkups but I’m now on yearly checkups at Peter Mac in Melbourne.
Undergoing treatment with my two small kids was incredibly tough. My daughter went to childcare twice a week, but every other day we had to find someone to look after her & my amazing sister in-law looked after our newborn every day and on some days, she minded both of our kids, as well as her own.
My husband is self-employed & had to take time off work to be my carer and take me to the appointments most days & had friends take me the other days. We had to travel an hour and a half to Melbourne every day on the train to and from my treatment. Those few months were incredibly long and tiring for us, and of course I missed my children every day. We really couldn’t have done it without the support we received from family and friends.
Having my son actually saved my life or I wouldn’t be here today.
Since having my cancer it has driven me to participate in the Bellarine Relay For Life in Ocean Grove for the last 3 years with having a team in ‘Team Loz’ & the last 2 years as Secretary on the committee. I do alot of fundraising thru my Relay team raising money for the Cancer Council as I want to be able to help save others lives.
Some of the fundraising I do are:
•Sausage sizzles throughout the year
•Pie drives - twice a year
•Annual auction night (Sat 13th August for anyone who’s interested)