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Jenni’s Story – Cancer and Pregnancy Awareness Week 2014

download (2)My name is Jennifer and I’m 33 and am currently fighting cervical cancer. This is my story-

After the birth of my fifth child in March last year I was called for a routine smear at my 6 week post natal check. As I was still bleeding I couldn’t have this done and didn’t get round to it for another few months as it was one of those things you think ‘oh I do that soon’ and with five children we lead such busy lives that I just keep putting it off.

My children are aged 15, 13, 10, 3 and 1.

Eventually in January of this year I went to my doctors and had the smear done, I had been experiencing a few weird symptoms since the birth of the baby, bleeding after sex, lower back pain but I just put it down to having my fifth baby and my body getting back to normal, after all he was only a few months old.

When the results of the smear came back they were severely abnormal/query cancerous and I was called straight for a colcospopy at my local hospital.

I had the colcospopy within two weeks of the results and biopsies were taken of the abnormal areas and sent to the lab. As you can imagine I was both scared and nervous waiting for the results but not overly worried as I was fine in myself and going about my day to day life with my partner and children.

The results took about two weeks to come and they said that I had cin 2 and cin 3 and I needed a Lletz procedure which is when a hot wire is run over the surface of the cervix and further biopsies were taken during this procedure and it was on these biopsies that they found my cancer.

I’ll never forget the day we were told, my first reaction strangely was quite calm. By this time my symptoms had progresseddownload and I was bleeding all the time and in pain, so sub consciously I knew something was wrong as my body hadn’t reacted in this way to having my other four children.My partner was understandably upset and we went home with a massive cloud of uncertainly hanging over us.

I was sent two days after my diagnosis for an MRI scan to determine the stage if my cancer and to decide on what treatment I’d receive.

The staging results once again were a big shock- my tumour was 6cm and the cancer had just started to leave my cervix which put me at stage 2b which meant a surgical procedure to simply remove the cancer was pointless and I was referred to Christies hospital in didsbury to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The hospital were absolutely brilliant and it was my nurse there that found ‘mummy’s little star’ for me.

My treatment involved 20 days of consecutive radiotherapy (with weekends off) and four doses of chemotherapy once a week.

My older children were obviously in school the majority of the time I was receiving treatment but my youngest two , isobelle and Alex were at home with me. I spoke to my health visitor and was told there was no funding available for care for the babies  whilst I was having treatment and it was the same when I spoke to so social services, as the children weren’t at risk there was no help they could give me. Cancer treatment can be harsh and I was unsure as to wether or not id be able to care for them whilst having my treatment never mind the simple practicality of where they’d go whilst I was at the hospital. My partner couldn’t take the full month off work as we needed his wage to survive.

This was the last thing we needed. Having to face the reality of cancer and it’s treatment is hard enough but to have to worry about the well being of your small children was even worse. How an earth could I explain to my three year old why mummy was being sick? Why mummy was always tired? Why we couldn’t go to the park and play?

I didn’t want then to see me being sick and in pain. I wanted to shelter them from it all.

That’s when I made the application for a grant from mummy’s little star to help us pay for nursery places for isobelle and Alex for the month I was having treatment.

Amazingly we were awarded the grant which meant I could put the children in nursery everyday during my treatment which meant the pressure of either taking them with me on a two hour daily journey or finding someone to watch them every day for a month was gone and we felt like a huge weight was lifted from our shoulders. We as a family were and are so grateful for this help and are so glad we has mummy’s little star to take some of the pressure off us at the hardest time in our lives.

I’ve now finished my treatment and after 4 doses of chemotherapy, twenty doses of external radiotherapy and two 19 hour courses of internal radiotherapy we last week received news than my cervix has reformed cancer free and normally and my MRI scan shows hardly any trace of abnormalities at all and that my consultant is expecting that I’ll be give the all clear within the next couple of months.

This has been a hard and traumatic time for us as a family but with the help of this amazing charity we ve got through it and are looking forward to our futures, watching the older children do gcse’s and a levels and watching out babies grow up with a healthy cancer free mummy.

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Here is a continuation of my story posted in early 2015

I’m now six months post treatment and my life is back to normal. Well as back to normal as life can be after cancer. I’ve had numerous checks and scans and they’ve all come back cancer free and I’m awaiting my final scan results which are due on the 2nd feb.

I’m proof that cancer and it’s treatment happens to younger people with families. But I’m also proof with early detection cervical cancer is largely treatable and that’s why PAP smears are so vitally important. I often think about the what ifs- but I won’t let them take over, I always believed I’d get better and see my children grow up.

The last twelve months have been very difficult both emotionally and physically. But we’ve got through it as a family, with my dad and sister always there ready to help when we needed them. And we ve had good times, we had an amazing family holiday to Centre Parcs, my daughter turned four with full on children’s party and complete with visit from Anna and Elsa from frozen.

Cervical cancer can effects does of varying ages as often highlighted by the media, most often when someone has unfortunately lost their battle but cervical cancer can be beaten – and with the help of charities like Mummy’s star I’m glad my story of how treatment can be curative can be told. Smear tests are a little uncomfortable and a little embarrassing but they are also life saving. Please anyone reading this who may be due or even overdue a smear, make an appointment now – it really can happen to anyone.

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