A cancer survivor who experienced severe vaginal bleeding which felt like “somebody had just popped a balloon”, earlier than she underwent gruelling therapy to take away a big vascular tumour in her cervix, needs to present the optimistic message to different girls that a cervical cancer diagnosis is “not a death sentence”.
Joanne Painter, who lives in Northampton, was recognized with stage 2 cervical most cancers when she was 38 years previous after noticing uncommon vaginal discharge after which experiencing abnormal, heavy bleeding for a number of months.
The mother-of-two, who’s the founder and managing director of a pure inexperienced burial floor and a humanist funeral celebrant, mentioned the bleeding was so extreme that, on events, it felt like “somebody had just popped a balloon or turned the tap on”.
The now 43-year-old mentioned she was repeatedly instructed by medical doctors that they weren’t involved and was initially misdiagnosed as having a cervical ectropion – when cells from contained in the cervical canal develop onto the surface of the cervix – however Joanne knew her symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
After pushing for a prognosis, in February 2018, Joanne obtained the information she had cervical most cancers and mentioned she was “dumbfounded” – however now, as a survivor wanting again on the final 5 years, Joanne desires to boost consciousness of the significance of early detection and “remaining positive”.
“You know your body better than anyone and, if something’s not right, then don’t be fobbed off by a practitioner or a doctor, or whoever is saying ‘oh, it’s fine’… keep going and get screened and get vaccinated, if you can, and don’t take no for an answer,” Joanne mentioned.
“Obviously, the sooner you can get a diagnosis, the better chances you are going to have.”
Cervical most cancers is a most cancers that’s discovered wherever within the cervix – the opening between the vagina and the womb – and, in line with the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, it presently kills two girls within the UK each day.
A cervical screening, referred to as a smear take a look at, checks the well being of the cervix and is a take a look at to assist stop most cancers, however in Joanne’s case, the outcomes from her earlier smear assessments had been detrimental previous to her prognosis.
After noticing uncommon discharge on the age of 38, which she described as “very watery”, Joanne contacted her GP to rearrange an appointment.
She mentioned the physician “wasn’t very concerned at all”, however simply days later, she began to expertise vaginal bleeding, which progressively worsened.
Joanne likened the bleeding to a “light period” at first and was initially recognized as having a cervical ectropion, however when she began to bleed by her sanitary pads to her clothes and was spending as much as an hour on the bathroom at occasions, she knew “this isn’t right”.
It grew to become so extreme that, throughout a visit to the theatre with associates, she mentioned she “felt this ‘pop’ and there was blood gushing down (her) legs”.
On one other event, throughout a visit to Australia, she bled “for nearly the whole 24-hour flight” and it “came through to the airplane seat”.
Joanne mentioned: “The spotting became really heavy bleeding; I could sit on the toilet for 20 minutes at a time and it was like somebody had just popped a balloon or turned the tap on, and it was just, drip, drip, drip.
“That was when I started to think, ‘oh, this doesn’t seem right’, and at that time, I was feeling really, really tired.
“I had a four-year-old and a seven-year-old, I was working full time, so I just put the tiredness down to that…(but) obviously, I was losing quite a lot of blood, so that led me to go back to my doctor again.”
Joanne was referred to a genealogist at Northampton General Hospital, however her husband Neil, 48, a builder, took her to the hospital earlier, as she ended up bleeding by her clothes once more whereas out for dinner.
She mentioned medical doctors had been initially dismissive of her symptoms as soon as once more, however after staying in a single day to attempt to cease the bleeding, Joanne was instructed by a gynaecologist guide the next morning: “I’m really sorry, this doesn’t look good.”
She was knowledgeable she had cervical most cancers and, after a biopsy had been taken and she or he underwent numerous scans and an MRI, it was revealed she had a 6cm vascular tumour in her cervix, which might require therapy somewhat than surgical procedure to take away.
“I was totally and utterly in disbelief, to be honest… I remember just sitting there, just completely speechless,” Joanne mentioned.
“I wasn’t upset particularly, I think it was just like, is this actually happening?
“Then, within about half an hour, a Macmillan nurse just appeared at the bottom of my bed and introduced herself, and I think that was the moment that it sunk in – the reality of, oh my God, I actually have a Macmillan nurse sitting at the end of my bed, that is not good news.”
Joanne defined that the information was even tougher to listen to as she had misplaced her dad to most cancers 9 years earlier, however regardless of her fears, she knew she needed to keep optimistic.
“I was sitting there, thinking, my dad died of cancer, now they’re telling me I’ve potentially got cancer, and I’ve got a four-year-old and a seven-year-old, and I’ve got to get through this because I can’t not be there for my children,” Joanne defined.
“So very quickly, this overwhelming need to survive just came over me.”
Joanne believes that her optimistic mindset was elementary in serving to her get by her therapy, which concerned six weeks of chemoradiation adopted by three weeks of brachytherapy – a sort of inside radiation remedy, which Joanne mentioned left her insides “black and chargrilled”.
The mum-of-two defined that she didn’t lose her hair, because of the kind of chemotherapy she underwent, however she felt “dreadful” at occasions.
She mentioned she skilled extreme exhaustion, power diarrhoea, and felt “a bit hungover, like (she had) done 20 shots of tequila”, and although she was “terrified” at occasions, she knew she needed to push by the challenges she confronted, particularly for her youngsters.
“You can’t dwell on it, you’ve just got to get on with it,” Joanne mentioned.
“You never want (your children) to see you upset and you never want them thinking you’re that poorly, so you just crack on…
“I never felt like I needed any counselling, I didn’t want anybody to feel sorry for me; I didn’t want to ever be defined as ‘Jo who had cancer’, so I was very much like, just get on with this, get through it, it’s not that bad.”
Three months after her therapy had ended, Joanne went again to the hospital for a check-up and was given the “wonderful” information that the tumour had gone.
Although Joanne mentioned it took “a long time to recover” and described the after-effects of her remedies, resembling going into menopause, as a “train crash”, she harassed the significance of getting help community, exercising, and “being kind to yourself” throughout rehabilitation.
Joanne can also be a “real believer in the law of attraction and putting it out to the universe”, and she or he mentioned writing affirmations helped enormously.
“These things do take time, so people need to probably just know that (they’re) not going to bounce back and feel absolutely 100% afterwards and life go back to normal,” she mentioned.
“I think there is a bit of a life adjustment and just accepting the new you; this is ‘the new me’ now, and I am different to what I was beforehand, but it’s not a bad thing, it’s just slightly different.”
Joanne has common check-ups each few months and though she has had a “few wobbles over the years”, she desires to encourage different girls who might have had a cervical most cancers prognosis to “try not to go down that fear tunnel of ‘this is a death sentence’,” including: “You’ve got everything to live for.”
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs from January 23-29 and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is launching its largest ever marketing campaign: #WeCan End Cervical Cancer, to work in the direction of a day the place cervical most cancers is a factor of the previous.
You can discover out extra by visiting the website here.
Leave a Reply