Lauren M’s Story

I was diagnosed with Stage 1b1 cervical cancer at the age of 30. It came out of the blue and hit me, and my family and friends for six. A pap smear, a colposcopy, a biopsy and a LLETZ confirmed my diagnosis and set a treatment plan in motion.

Having always had regular pap smears, we were initially convinced that it couldn’t be as bad as it sounded. That it would be a short cancer experience. I had no idea just how tough I would need to be. Two surgeries, a cycle of IVF, chemotherapy and at least another surgery to come, my cancer palaver is ongoing.

I have felt every emotion under the sun. The expected ones like anger, fear, sadness and grief. And the unexpected ones like envy, apathy and immense gratitude. Oh, and guilt…so much guilt.

Throughout the whole debacle, I got told by those around me how strong I was. How brave. How tough. But I certainly didn’t feel that way on the inside. What they didn’t know was that I was sobbing uncontrollably in the shower, shovelling junk food into my mouth and watching reality TV for eight hours a day.

Slowly though, I began to realise that ‘tough’ didn’t mean being positive all the time. It wasn’t about holding it together, holding back the tears or holding onto the past. Being tough meant admitting that what I was going through was horrible, that I was struggling, but not letting it consume my identity.

Every single one of us goes through difficult times. Whether it’s cancer, mental illness, parenting battles, difficult relationships or just ‘one of those days’. What lightened my load was sharing what I was going through.

I am working towards creating a community where women can openly share their experiences. Where we can support each other on the days we want to cry under a duvet, and celebrate each other on the days we get out of bed and make breakfast that isn’t a bar of chocolate. Well, maybe we can celebrate chocolate for breakfast on occasion too.

One Tough Chick products are designed to remind you that you’re braver, stronger and more resilient than you ever imagined and every sale contributes to Gynaecological Cancer Research.

My tips for Australian women about cervical health

Never skip a cervical screening. Ever.