Heather’s Story

When my son was almost 2 we decided we wanted to try for another baby. I booked in for my pap smear and was 8 months or so late. The Dr could see something was wrong straight away and a week later I was seeing my ObGyn for a biopsy. All of a sudden what I was expecting to be something a bit scary but fixable, had become cancer and words like hysterectomy were being thrown around. I spent a lot of time feeling absolutely terrified, crying or just numb. I was heartbroken at the thought of my boy growing up without me, of not seeing him hitting all those life milestones.

Because I wanted to have another child, I was referred to Prof Felix Chan (the guy in the photo!) who performs fertility saving treatment called radical trachelectomy. I had to have a PET scan which luckily showed that the tumour looked confined to my cervix, so the best case scenario.

My surgery was scheduled for a couple of weeks later. Dr Chan performed the surgery using a robot and removed most of my cervix plus lots of lymph nodes. A tense 10 day wait followed until I got the news that there were clear margins around the tumour and my lymph nodes were clear.

I had a two year wait before being given the all clear to try to conceive. Dr Chan placed a stitch around the outside of my uterus to perform the function of my cervix and to hold everything together during a pregnancy. I luckily fell pregnant within weeks and despite a fairly stressful pregnancy for me and my family (And definitely my obstetrician!) I had a beautiful baby girl by C Section earlier this year. A post trach pregnancy carries lots of risks but I was one of the lucky ones who had very few issues and delivered at 38 weeks. The scary thing is there is very little in the way of information regarding conception and pregnancy after this surgery. I was lucky to find a worldwide support group where we exchange lots of information and brilliant support.

My little girl is 8 months old now and our family is definitely complete. Unfortunately, the shadow of cancer looms large for me and I have developed health anxiety as a result of my experience. I am so lucky to have what I do now and to be over 3 years all clear and every day I am thankful for that.

My tips for Australian women about cervical health

Please, please stay up-to-date on your tests. And if you feel something isn’t right then don’t stop until you have answers.