Chelsea’s Story

  • 7 years ago
  • Location: QLD
  • Age: 27
Read more stories from women with cervical cancer.

You know that dreaded Pap test us women know all to well? Well, that is where my story began. Towards the end of January 2012, I decided it was time for me to go and have my Pap test, which was 12 months overdue. I was 23 and it wasn’t the first Pap test I’d had either, it was my third.

A week later I received a call from my GP asking me to make an appointment to discuss the results. To be honest I just thought that I needed to repeat the test as the sample wasn’t adequate. During the appointment I was told the Pap test results showed ‘possible high grade glandular lesion’ and that I needed to see a gynaecologist for further testing.

I suddenly became concerned and wanted more answers. I was really nervous, but tried to remain positive. I remember my Mum telling me that lots of women have abnormal Pap test results and that I should not be worried about it. The gynaecologist performed a colposcopy (a type of test) and took a biopsy.

The following week it was time to get the results. I asked my Mum to come with me to the appointment for support. The biopsy results confirmed the Pap test. I was told I needed to have a cone biopsy to determine the diagnosis. The gynaecologist had already discussed my results with the oncologist and an appointment had been made for treatment. I freaked out! I knew that oncologists specialised in the treatment of cancer. I was horrified to think that I may have had cancer.

I saw the oncologist and he booked me in for a cone biopsy. There was an area of my cervix that he said ‘didn’t look right’. Following the cone biopsy surgery I saw the oncologist to get the results. I was extremely nervous and felt sick.

I was told I had a 1.8cm tumour and that it was cancer. I was devastated and in complete shock. I was hoping I would wake up and realise it had all been a bad dream. I was diagnosed with stage 1b1 adenocarcinoma of the cervix (cervical cancer). I couldn’t believe it, as I had not felt sick. I never anticipated having a tumour growing inside me.
The treatment was by way of major surgery and I was told the options. Option 1 was to have a radical hysterectomy. I immediately burst into tears. I knew that a hysterectomy meant that I would not be able to have children. I was devastated and no words can describe how I felt at that moment.

I was then told about Option 2, which was to have a radical trachelectomy, meaning I could keep my uterus, but would also need to have my pelvic lymph nodes removed. Before the oncologist would decide what the best treatment was, I needed to have a PET/CT scan to ensure the cancer had not spread.

My first bit of good news was following the PET/CT scan. The cancer had not spread and was confined to the cervix.

On 23 May 2012, I had the radical trachelectomy (removal of my cervix, upper vagina, surrounding tissue) and pelvic lymphadenectomy (removal of pelvic lymph nodes). It was a SUCCESS!

Since then I have continued to have regular check ups and Pap tests with both my oncologist and gynaecologist and there has been no return of the dreaded ‘C’ word.

I believe the Pap test back in January 2012 saved my life!

If you want to read more about my story check out a blog I wrote shortly following my diagnosis:

My tips for Australian women about cervical health:

I share my story so that people value the importance of Pap tests and so I can hopefully prevent someone from experiencing what I have. If the tumour had had been greater than 2cm (2 millimetres bigger) I would not have been able to preserve my fertility and would have needed a hysterectomy …. or worse.

I ask you to encourage the women in your life to have regular Pap tests. No one is invincible to cervical cancer… don’t think it won’t happen to you, like I did.