May 18, 2023
Karyn was pleased to finally be able to attend a smear test in January 2021, after Covid restrictions the previous year had meant her smear was delayed. At just 30 years old and in good health, she wasn’t expecting any problems.
“The nurse at my GP practice was a little concerned during my smear about some bleeding and a spongey texture to the cervix. I had also been experiencing some bloating, which I put down to a digestion problem, but I wasn’t overly concerned. I was referred to Rotherham Hospital for a Colposcopy which seemed routine enough. So, it was devastating to later receive a call telling me I had cervical cancer and to attend further scans.”
“After that, things moved quickly. The scans revealed a tumour on my cervix and I was referred to specialists at Sheffield’s Weston Park Cancer Hospital. My consultant referred me to London’s Royal Marsden Hospital for a radical trachelectomy, which is a type of partial hysterectomy where the cervix is removed but the rest of the fertility organs remain. This was important to me and my partner as we wanted the option to still have a family.”
These difficult conversations were made even harder for Karyn as Covid restrictions were still in place and she wasn’t allowed a family member present for many of her scans and appointments.
“That was one of the worst things to be honest. Being alone whilst having my MRI scans or waiting for news was awful. Having my cancer treatment during Covid restrictions made a bad situation so much worse and made my anxiety levels much higher.”
The operation went well but 4 weeks later Karyn received the news that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and she was referred back to Weston Park.
“I just couldn’t believe it. Recovery from major surgery was hard enough so this further news was devastating to me. To make matters worse I was told I wouldn’t be able to freeze any eggs so on top of my diagnosis, we also had to deal with our dream of a family being taken away too. My employer at the time wasn’t particularly supportive and cancer was having a real impact on our finances too.”
A 5-week course of daily radiotherapy and weekly chemotherapy followed, most of it undertaken alone due to continuing Covid restrictions.
“I finally received the all clear in November 2021 when scans revealed that no traces of cancer remained. I was obviously hugely relieved but cancer had really taken its toll on me, physically and mentally. I was struggling to process all that had happened to me and finally a nurse at Weston Park mentioned Cavendish Cancer Care to me. I self-referred to Cavendish and asked for counselling. After an assessment I was assigned to 6 sessions with Jack, one of the counsellors.
“It was such a relief to not have to put a brave face on. I could finally let my true feelings out with someone and not worry about them judging me or being upset. I was very angry and I was able to be honest about that with Jack. I don’t think I could have got the service I received from Cavendish anywhere else.”
“Although I’m cancer free now, I’m still dealing with after-effects of my treatment and the psychological impacts too. The counselling was absolutely essential to my recovery and I wouldn’t rule out having further sessions. I recommend Cavendish to everyone I meet – as well as telling people to get regular smear tests!”