Belle S’s Story

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer on 14 September 2017, but it was a month prior that my symptoms started. I began having strange abnormal bleeding between my period that month. The spotting continued throughout the month; it was a first for me as normally my periods are to the book, never an issue and three days a month like clockwork.

I decided to make an appointment with my GP and see what was happening. I knew I was due that month for my Pap smear so we did the test at my visit just to be sure, as well as other tests like bloods and urine. On inspection, my GP could see the cyst straight away and referred me on to Flinders Medical Centre for further tests. I couldn’t wait and I immediately booked in with a private Gynaecologist who could go ahead and do a biopsy as well as another screening test. Two days later, I received a call that would change my life. A call saying the lab had found the biopsy results to be a “nasty little cancer” and I needed to go to Flinders Medical Centre the next day (Friday). So I did, not knowing what any of this meant for my future at all.

The days that followed were full of tests – MRI and a CT scan to make sure the cancer was contained and not spread anywhere else in my body. I went back to Flinders Medical Centre the following week for the final results. I was diagnosed with Stage 1b1 cervical cancer. I’ll be honest, I cried with relief. “I got it in time,” I thought, as I had researched stages in my moments of madness waiting for all of this. “I can do this. I can beat this,” I said.

I had a great team at Flinders Medical Centre. Dr Paramasivam was my gynaecologist and he assured me we had this in the bag. I was going to have surgery and get this cancer out of me and I was going to live until I was old and grey. On Monday 9 October, I was booked in for a radical hysterectomy;  20 lymph nodes were removed and two centimetres from the inside of my vagina (where the cervix was located) was also removed. I went into surgical menopause immediately and was put on HRT as I had my ovaries removed – we weren’t taking any risks. I stayed in hospital until the Friday. Just as I was leaving, my doctor came in to tell me that my margins were clear and no further treatment required – no chemotherapy, no radiation – just three monthly check ups for two and a half years and six monthly check ups until five years after that, where I will then be classed at cured.

I was 33 years old. Fit, healthy, a non-smoker and I don’t do drugs. This wasn’t meant to happen, but listening to my body and knowing there was something not right and being up to date with my screenings saved my life! I’ve always been regular with my lady bits smears. My last one 2 years ago was clear, as was the one 3 years prior. I can’t stress how important it is to my friends, my local community and anyone I speak to in passing – if I didn’t do the cervical screening when I did, my fate would have been very different. Cancer doesn’t discriminate and being a mummy to three gorgeous children who rely on me solely, my conversation with them would have been one I would have dreaded more than the cancer I had.

I don’t want any woman out there to feel the fear I did as I waited to see if I was terminal or not and staring at my children as they slept, not knowing what was going to happen to me and to them. I am thankful every day that this horrible thing is gone and even though I still have moments every now and then where I’m scared or anxious (especially at clinic time), instead of saying ‘why me?’ I have decided to say thank you for giving me a voice to help someone else. It’s a chapter in my life where I learnt something extremely important and confronting and hopefully by circulating my story I can potentially save someone else the heartache I felt for those moments in time.

I am cancer free and I’m staying that way!
Live, laugh, love, dance, let your hair down and walk bare foot in nature and enjoy everything around you…

My tips for Australian women about cervical health

Screening, screening, screening!

Don’t delay, a few moments of being uncomfortable is nothing compared to the effects cancer has on you for the rest of you life!
If anything seems abnormal to you, get it checked.

Early prevention is the key…