Cervical cancer at 26 forced me into menopause and I won't be able to have more kidsJanuary 17, 2021
JASMINE Carter, 27, lives in Ipswich, Suffolk, with her fiancé Grant, 29, an office worker, daughter Poppy, 11, and son Freddy, two.
After being diagnosed with cervical cancer, she was left heartbroken not to be able to have another child.
“Waking up in agony, I realised that I was bleeding between my legs. As I staggered to the toilet, I was terrified. I had no idea what was happening to me.
Growing up, I always wanted lots of kids, but it was a shock when I became pregnant aged 15 with my then-boyfriend. I gave birth to Poppy in May 2009, and my relationship ended when she was a year old.
Although life as a teenage mum was tough, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I met Grant, 22, on a night out when I was 20, and we knew instantly we were meant to be together. After five years of dating we were thrilled to welcome our son Freddy in September 2018.
But in June 2019, I started spotting after sex. Over the coming weeks, the bleeding became almost constant, with debilitating cramps. I couldn’t leave the house for days and I would spend hours crying in the bathroom.
Hoping the bleeding would stop, it wasn’t until early September that I went to the GP. They told me I’d missed my first ever smear test when I was pregnant with Freddy, as pregnant women aren’t invited to them. I had a test that day, and was also given an urgent cervical cancer referral.
At my hospital appointment in early October, they took a biopsy from my cervix and used a colposcopy camera to look inside. As the gynaecologist said it looked like cancer, I felt my world shatter.
I had biopsies taken under general anaesthetic at the end of October, followed by an MRI and a full body scan. When I finally got the call to come into the hospital in early November, my heart sank.
I was told that I had stage two cervical cancer, but that it was treatable with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The doctor reassured me that I had a good chance of survival, but the radiation would cause lasting damage to my ovaries and likely result in infertility. I was also warned that I could go into early menopause.
When I was offered the option of freezing my eggs, Grant and I had spoken about having more kids but hadn’t started planning, so I decided not to as it would have delayed my treatment. I couldn’t risk leaving my kids without their mum.
Freddy was too young to understand, but back at home I told Poppy that I’d feel poorly over the coming months. She was frightened, but coped well when I explained everything.
A week later, Grant and I were out for a walk in Norfolk when he caught me off-guard, going down on one knee to propose. It was bittersweet – one of the happiest moments of my life, but my anxiety was high as I waited for treatment.
I began chemo at the end of November 2019 and had five sessions a week for five weeks. This was followed by three sessions of brachytherapy (a type of internal radiation therapy). I was so grateful to have Grant caring for me, but it was still gruelling.
I developed severe fatigue and the radiotherapy damaged my pelvic area, leading to bowel and bladder issues. Fortunately, my hair didn’t fall out and the nausea was eased by anti-sickness medication.
My last brachytherapy session was last January. But two weeks later, I started experiencing hot flushes and I knew it was the menopause.
I began suffering night sweats, forgetfulness and hip pain. Thankfully, HRT has helped a lot.
Last April, I was given the all clear. I’ve been told that the cancer could return in the first year, but that over time the risk goes down.
Cancer has changed my whole outlook on life, and one day I would like to work with cancer patients, or speak to young women about the importance of smear tests – it only takes a few minutes and could save your life.
I have so much to look forward to and Grant and I have started planning our dream wedding for later this year. While I was heartbroken not to be able to have another child, I’d definitely consider adoption. But for now, I am content with every moment I get to spend with my family.”
- For more information on cervical cancer, visit Jostrust.org.uk.
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