Victoria’s Story

This time last year (March 2015), less than a year ago, my weeks were busy with hospital visits at the Mater with pre-natal appointments, feeling my son grow and eagerly awaiting his arrival.

After Adam was born a (repeat) Pap test showed pre-cancerous cells on my cervix. Biopsies at a later appointment confirmed it was cancer. I had a cone biopsy (a cone shaped removed from your cervix) under GA at QEII in October 2015 in the hope that that would be it.. I could get on with life and not have to worry about any further treatment. Cancer was found in that biopsy and I was diagnosed with stage 1A2 Adenocarcinoma. This is a less common type of cervical cancer, which develops from the glandular cells.

I had absolutely no signs or symptoms that cancer was growing inside me. I don’t smoke, only drink occasionally, I am active and healthy. I was referred to the Mater Oncology Gynaecology Unit. December 22nd I had another GA to have another cone biopsy performed…. “Hopefully this time you will have better margins and we will be able to remove all the cancer”.

I received my results on the 5th January at 3.45pm. I took the call at work thinking that it would be good news. Cancer was still present in that cone, margins are not good enough, and the cancer is “skipping up my cervix” so there is no way to tell what (if anything) is left in the rest of my cervix. PET and CT scans a few days later – looks like it is localised to just that area.

Recommended treatment: Hysterectomy, lymph nodes and fallopian tubes removed. Secondary opinions also pointed at that as the best treatment.

Inside less than a year my weeks are busy with hospital appointments at the Mater, blood tests, and pre op appointments to have the above treatment in the hope to be cancer free.

My patient file contains my maternity charts and my oncology charts…. To me it feels like an open and closed book.
The next time that I thought I would be at the Mater was to have another baby… the next time that I was to leave the Mater I thought I would be a happy and joyous occasions. The next time I was going to have another blood test, ultra sound, blood pressure check, was to make sure that my baby and I were nice and healthy.

At times the thought of not being able to carry a child ever again strikes me, it is more vivid than the cancer diagnosis. This loss is in many ways more difficult to deal with.

March 22nd 2016 is when I will have my procedure.

I never thought that I would have cancer, I never thought that at 30 years of age I would be requiring a hysterectomy and have my dreams of carrying another or more babies taken from me.

But I am lucky.
While this is an extremely emotional and heartbreaking time for me I have my amazing family and friends supporting me. I have an incredibly brilliant son who has the ability to know when I need that extra cuddle or a laugh. I have the most fantastic partner who through all this has and been there for and with me every step of the way. My boss has been incredibly understanding of the time that I have had and will need off work.

I am lucky.
This type of cancer, in the glandular cells, is not normally detected until its spread or is much worse. I will still have my ovaries so while I will not be able to carry a baby myself I will be able to have future pregnancies via surrogates.

I am lucky.
I have a good chance of beating this cancer and I will. At this stage it’s thought that after this procedure I won’t require any other treatment. I have a wonderful and bright future to look forward to and while it’s taking a different path to what I imagined I will be making the absolute best of it and I am looking forward to my new and exciting journey.

I will not let this define me.

2020 Update:

I would never dream of starting IVF but have just started the journey with my sister being our surrogate. I’ve been keeping up with regular check-ups over the last few years, both at the mater and private doctor – so am seeing someone every 3 months!

My tips for Australian women about cervical health

Please don’t think you are invincible or that it wont happen to you. Take a proactive approach to your cervical health.