Mandi’s Story

I was 34, single, studying again, and about to embark on my own brand new business when I was diagnosed with CIN3 cancer of the cervix. Treatment for me was a radical hysterectomy.

Initially you’re along for the ride, watching almost from the outside as your life unfolds before you. Tests and treatments, other people’s tears, organs tossed aside along with the alternate life that they held.

You hold it all together because, what else are you going to do? You’re strong for loved ones who are not. You just turn up to the appointments because you have to. You climb onto the operating table without thinking because you’ve been told that this is now your path.

Then silence. You’re cured! Grateful. Well. Happy..? Alone.

Then came the years of depression and sadness with the realisation of the outcome.

You watched friends and family produce child after child. Baby showers, Blessings, Christenings, birthday parties… Laughter, joy and congratulations spill from your mouth with ease because it’s rehearsed – you’ve done this before.

But it’s different now. Something deep within has shifted, and the joy is not so heartfelt. The laughter is a little false. You can feel it. You can hear it but you wonder if anyone else can.

Initially you dive into work for a few years, but ignoring the maternal instinct was more damaging. I started babysitting and helping friends with their housework etc when they came home with new babies.

I have had times where I honestly did not want to go on another day. But, it does get a little easier over time. I still have days when I cry for my lack of a child, but I am learning other ways of connecting.

I began studies 5 years ago (at age 42!) and retrained to become a midwife. I now share in the joy of other people’s love. I help them during pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatally. I feel as though I am helping in ways that make a real difference.

Throwing myself head first toward what touched me the deepest, I began healing in ways that I mightn’t have realised were possible. I still cry at almost every birth, and often go home emotionally exhausted, but feel at last that my life has some purpose.

I was diagnosed through a Pap smear. A simple test that many women find confronting, uncomfortable, embarrassing… but it saved my life.

My tips for Australian women about cervical health

No matter how embarrassing, uncomfortable or confronting it may seem, please find a professional who you trust and get your Pap smear test done regularly. It saved my life.