True to my post-brachytherapy haze, I am going to answer the questions that people have posed to me via this blog, twitter, Facebook and in every day life.
The one question that has been asked again and again was how did I know something wasn’t right. When did I think I needed to go to the doctors. @Jennymortimer1 @snafflesmummy and @lemadee all want to know:
‘How/when did you know there was something wrong. What were the signs?’
Firstly, let me say this. The symptoms I am about to describe could come under a whole umbrella of ailments, however my main symptom I suffered with is the main symptom of Cervical Cancer.
I’m also going to say that this is going to be very graphic. I’m not ashamed of my body and you shouldn’t be ashamed of yours either. The more aware we are of our bodies, then the more aware we are of changes that can happen.
When you have a baby and breastfeed, more often than not you wont have periods, that was true with me and in fact i’ve still not had a proper period for nearly 2.5 years, since falling pregnant with James. And now, i’m probably never going to have another one. I digress…
In January 2012, I had an awful period. Really awful pain, lots of blood etc. In fact the doctor thought I was having a miscarriage. At the time I just thought it was my body re-adjusting to not being pregnant and weaning from cluster breastfeeding.
The period ended and what followed in the 3 months later was very scant periods, barely noticeable. it was in fact a joy to have a period.
After having James, and having had what felt like 4000 stitches, I found it difficult to sit directly down on my bottom. I always felt a pressure there and it permeated to my very lower back. I just put this down to pitfall of having children. A permanent change to my body structure.
Turns out that was the tumour growing and putting pressure of the area around it.
James turned One at the end of April and I started a new job and to put it delicately, me and Pete were starting to re-kindle our relationship. Ahem.
I’d found it hard to get ‘back in the saddle’ as it were, after having a second degree tear delivering James and then a demanding baby loving boob milk, it was difficult to find time (and courage) to have sex again.
So, we started doing what husbands and wives do, but I noticed that after, I would have bled. A little at first but each time it would get a little worse.
Something else that happens when you breast feed is that you can experience vaginal dryness. I did and that was another reason why sex was also a little difficult for me.
However, from about May onwards I discovered that I was getting a discharge. Again, a little a first but it gradually got worse and worse. Again I thought it was down to the breast feeding going down to two feeds a day so my body was adjusting.
But the discharge got worse. And it got worse again. It got so bad I had to resort to wearing pantyliners. It then got so bad that I had to wear sanitary towels. In fact, after my diagnosis, it had increased so much I had resorted to wear Tena lady underwear. I has the sexy.
In June 2012, I realised that it wasn’t just discharge anymore, it had a smell to it too. It was very watery and it used to stain my knickers. Gone were the days that I didn’t have to wear underwear to bed, the discharge was so much worse at night. I now know that its worse at night because effectively you are putting pressure the tumour when you lie down.
This discharge, I would later find out, is a major sign of cervical cancer. In June 2012, cancer was the furthest thing from my mind.
I was feeling tired, tetchy and just generally blah.
I went to the doctors and was swabbed for STD’s and given antibiotics because basically, the doctor didn’t really know what it was.
The antibiotics caused me to bleed because it was inserted into my vagina and basically I poked the beast.
I went back in July 2012 and saw my amazing doctor (Hi Dr S!) who when I told all my symptoms (tiredness, rapid weight loss, abnormal bleeding in between already minimal periods) didn’t like the sound of it at all and ordered bloods and a transvaginal scan. I had to wait 6 weeks for scan, which took us up to 2nd October when the ‘mass’ was discovered.
I was stupid, I ‘forgot’ to get my smear in December 2011. It would have definitely been picked up on that. I could have saved myself a lot of treatment. I probably would have had surgery to removed abnormal cells rather than me be lumbered with the fucking tumour for the rest of my life. Cervical cancer is a fucking aggressive beast. My fuckwit grew at an alarming rate.
But, we are on the other side of the diagnosis now. I am 11 days away from my 4-week check up.
I can actually sit down without being in pain or uncomfortable or sitting on my leg so that I don’t directly sit on my bum. This was a major realisation to me that my treatment could be working, when my Mum commented that I was sitting normally. I knew then that Fuckwit had shrunk.
And I can wear my nice knickers again.
Its the little things (or big knickers) that make all the difference.