Posted on Friday 7 June 2019
Jody’s story – I felt like I was watching somebody else’s life
Jody, a mother of two, was 22 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After treatment shrunk a tumour on her cervix, Jody had a hysterectomy, leaving her infertile and going through early menopause.
Jody was supported throughout her treatment by Harriet, a CLIC Sargent social worker. As part of CLIC Sargent’s What About Me? report, we want to reach more young people like Jody, who are going through treatment for cervical cancer. Here, Jody tells her story.
It was in August 2016 when I noticed slight irregular bleeding. I was 22 and I didn’t think much of it because I had just had the contraceptive implant in my arm and assumed it was a side-effect of that. However, my symptoms continued and worsened.
I found a story circulating on social media about a young woman who died from cervical cancer. I started researching symptoms of cervical cancer straight away and realised I had the same symptoms, back ache, irregular bleeding, discharge, and abdominal pain. It was a huge shock and I became really worried.
I rang my GP to ask for a smear test but they said I was too young as I was under 25. I also rang every sexual health clinic in Doncaster to try and get a smear appointment, but they all said no.
I knew what my body was telling me. It was frustrating medical professionals didn’t believe me. I thought dying would be the only way they would have believed me. After coming up against constant no’s to have a smear, I borrowed some money and booked in to a private hospital for a smear and they saw me the next day.
As soon as the gynaecologist did a check-up he seemed very alarmed, asking how I was and if I was in pain. They ordered tests and told me I needed to bring my partner in the room.
They told me I had stage 2B locally advanced cervical cancer. The oncologist said that if I hadn’t got it checked and treated, I would have had six to nine months to live. I had a 5.6cm tumour on my cervix.
We left the clinic in tears. Although I had a feeling it was cancer, it was still a huge shock. I went numb and thought of my young kids. I felt like I was watching somebody else’s life.
I was transferred to Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It made me really tired; I felt sick, was in pain and had troubles with my bowels. I also had to change my diet and cut all processed food and sugar out and eat only fruit and vegetables, and take lots of different supplements, which increased our food bills.
The treatment shrunk my tumour to 2cm. After that, in January 2018, I had a hysterectomy where they took my cervix, womb, ovaries and surrounding lymph nodes out. It was very tiring and painful and I needed a lot of bed rest to recover.
As a result of my treatment, I am left infertile, going through early menopause, getting bad recurring water infections and have a lot of pain in my legs and hips.
The whole experience was really difficult and it was made harder due to the travel distance of 45 minutes to an hour for my treatment. I decided to do daytrips rather than be admitted as I had two small children and wanted to be at home with them.
Financially it was also a struggle as Andy, my partner, had to stop working as a security officer to care for me and our children and we were relying on benefits which were hard to get. We received a grant which really helped.
Although I had a feeling it was cancer, it was still a huge shock. I went numb and thought of my young kids. I felt like I was watching somebody else's life."
During my treatment I met my CLIC Sargent Social Worker, Harriet. Without CLIC Sargent and Harriet it would have been so much harder. She was amazing and became a friend I could rely on.
My children were very young when I went into hospital, Marshall was 5 and Lilly was 2. Harriet was a huge help with supporting Marshall, and even went into his school to tell him about cancer and what it all meant.
Harriet never questioned me and always made sure I understood everything. She thought of things that I would never have thought of, and helped me with paperwork for a grant and benefits I was entitled to. I don’t know what I would have done without her and CLIC Sargent.
Cancer pressed pause on my life – I felt stuck for a very long time. However, the whole experience has changed my perspective and made me realise how precious life is.
Harriet and CLIC Sargent have given me a future and motivated me to start my career and helped me apply for college courses. Thanks to her and CLIC Sargent’s support, I feel like I can go on.
I try not to look at things negatively and if there’s an opportunity I’ll take it, rather than wait until tomorrow.
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CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families.
If you know someone aged 25 or under who has been diagnosed with cervical cancer that might not be aware of CLIC Sargent’s services and support, get in touch. We want to be there for every young person, like Jody, facing cancer.
To find out more about how we help young people cope with the impact of cancer, please visit our what we do section. If you need support yourself please contact us using our online enquiry form or call 0300 330 0803.