Interview 88

Age at interview: 49
Age at diagnosis: 43
Brief Outline: Diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1996. External Radiotherapy (22 sessions) followed by Internal Radiotherapy (30 hours).
Background: Teacher; married, 2 children.

More about me...

She first realised something was wrong when she had a period that lasted for 5 weeks continuously. She was referred to hospital quite quickly and diagnosed with cervical cancer following the first colposcopy appointment. Her treatment started three weeks after her diagnosis. It was almost a relief to be diagnosed as she had been feeling very tired, and she now thinks this was due to having cervical cancer. 
She found it difficult telling her family, especially her husband who was very upset about it. It was important to her to tell her children, who were 5 and 11 at the time, as she felt it was something the whole family would have to get through together. 
She had 22 sessions of radiotherapy followed by internal radiotherapy, which she found especially difficult. The internal radiotherapy involved 30 hours of lying still in an isolated radiotherapy room in the hospital, and it made her feel very ill and she experienced extreme pain during the procedure. She felt completely cut off from the world at this time, and she felt euphoric when it was over. 
Her ovaries stopped working following the radiotherapy, so she had to go onto HRT. She wishes that someone had explained the physiology of the treatment after effects and what hormonal changes may have occurred as a result. She also wonders if her bladder has been weakened by the radiotherapy. 
Initially, the radiotherapy also led to vaginal dryness, so she would use lubricants when having intercourse with her husband. She can’t have any more children due to the treatment, but they were not planning on having any more. 
Having cancer was a life changing event and an opportunity for her to think about her priorities. She took the chance to slow her life down and found peace in her spiritual life, and now feels as though she is a much more contented person. 
She found it very helpful to speak to a friend who had been through cancer, who encouraged her to say positive things to herself when she felt vulnerable or weak. Her message to other women with cervical cancer is to ‘let your family spoil you’ and to allow yourself to be a bit vulnerable. 



She was told that her ovaries would not work after having pelvic radiotherapy for cervical cancer...

She was told that her ovaries would not work after having pelvic radiotherapy for cervical cancer...

I mean I know for certain that my ovaries don’t work anymore, which was fine for me because I didn't want any more children anyway, but it did have a knock-on effect on, you know, the different hormones that were being passed through my body any more. So, you know, I'd had to go onto HRT. I mean I didn't have to but, you know, giving it a lot of thought I did decide to go on it.
So did you start the menopause?
No but what they said was that because my ovaries weren't working any more that I wouldn’t have any oestrogen, so I'm on what they called I think it's extra combi HRT patches. And basically, you know, I was probably about 10 years away from having a normal start to the menopause, so that was, what they said is 10 years away from those hormones which were still protecting my bones for instance. So, you know, it's really because of osteoporosis that I've gone on those. I mean I've had no side effects whatsoever to them, there's no foreseeable sign that I have to come off the patches. But I think it's, you know, as time goes on I will have those sort of questions, well, you know, how much longer are you suggesting I stay on the patches? 
Previous Page
Next Page