Lauren on being diagnosed with cervical cancer

Published: 21 October 2022

Lauren was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018 and has been clear of cancer for three years. Her fiancée, Claire, was diagnosed with uterine sarcoma in 2021 and has received care from the same surgeon and Macmillan nurse who supported Lauren.

Meet Lauren

I was running a few months late for my smear test and wanted to get it booked in, but thought I couldn’t because I’d started having irregular bleeding. I put this down to my period being a bit off. I did book in my smear despite the bleeding and had a chat with the nurse, who suggested I come back in two weeks. I kept an eye on it in the meantime and at first, it didn’t make me panic.

Then the bleeding got to the point where I was spotting every day and my urine just looked like blood. I had also developed a pain in my side, so I went to the out of hours clinic at the Lister Hospital where I was told that I should visit my GP on Monday.

The doctor made an urgent referral on the cancer pathway. I had a smear test and colposcopy in hospital which revealed that I had cervical cancer. Fortunately, they’d caught it early so I was able to have a radical trachelectomy to remove my cervix and lymph nodes, meaning that I can hopefully still have my own children in future if I want to.

I did have the option to have further treatment at the time, but after seeking other opinions I decided against it.

“I had my first smear test at 25 and was due for another one three years later.”

I couldn’t have asked for better care from my Macmillan nurse Dawn, and my surgeon. If I had any concerns, like when I feared that lumps in my neck could be a sign of the cancer returning, I could speak to them.

Dawn was made for that job, right down to the calming and reassuring way she talks. She’s just incredible. Macmillan nurses may not have personally experienced a cancer diagnosis, but their lives are so closely intertwined with people who have that you immediately feel they understand what you’re going through.

It’s harder for family and friends when you’re first diagnosed, because the whole experience is totally alien to them and it can be hard to know how to react.

My fiancée Claire has also recently had uterine sarcoma. She was diagnosed after fibroid cysts were found in her womb. The same team who’d performed my surgery took care of Claire’s hysterectomy, and Dawn has been her nurse too. After that operation I texted Dawn to thank her for all the help and support she’d given me over the last few years.

I’m three years clear this year and am getting on with my life. We’ve just bought a house and before we even think about planning a wedding, we want to have a child. All being well, I can still carry a child, but Claire lost that chance when she had a hysterectomy and her ovaries and womb were removed.

“Don’t delay your smear, get it booked, get it done.”

I would say that we’re lucky to be given these opportunities to get checked. We have this care available to us that is free. Months matter when it comes to preventing this disease. It might not mean the difference between life or death, but it could mean the difference between having to have life changing surgery or not.

The nurse who does the smear will have performed the same procedure over and over again, so while the exam itself may feel strange, you’ll know that you’re in good and experienced hands. I would say to anyone who is on the fence or putting it off: don’t delay, get it booked, get it done.

The test is designed to pick up pre-cancerous growths that don’t tend to produce any symptoms at all. The only reason I had visible symptoms by the time of my second smear was because I had already developed cervical cancer.

When you’re young, you feel like you’re invincible and can’t believe that anything like that could happen to you. Yes, it’s rare for younger people to have cancer but you’re never too young for it to be impossible.

We are here for you

Cancer comes with many hidden costs. But Macmillan is here to support you. You may find these resources helpful: