Cervical cancer survivor warns us not to ignore this unusual symptom
Carla was fit, ate good food and used to exercise regularly. However, she never thought that this could be a symptom of cervical cancer!
Stomach pain is one of the most common symptoms since childhood. Most often, it is an indicator of an upset tummy. But, for Carla Bradbury, a resident of Nottinghamshire, UK, it was one of the most prominent symptoms of something much grimmer - cervical cancer.
In 2012, 41-year-old Carla was feeling alright except for the unease in her stomach. She had recently received a SodaStream, a machine to make fizzy drinks at home. And she attributed the pain to the more than usual amount of fizzy drinks that she had consumed over the past few days.
To be fair, she also had spotting, but she attributed it to hormones. But soon, the pain got worse and she went to see a GP. The doctor examined her and ordered a Pap smear. Sadly, the smear did not come up with favourable results and so, she was referred to a specialist.
The gynaecologist attributed the pain to endometriosis. However, the Pap smear warranted a closer examination. An MRI revealed that she had cervical cancer. However, it was not simple. It had grown into a mass the size of a plum. And, to make matters worse, it had spread to the adjoining tissue. It was inoperable.
For her stage 3B cancer, she could not be operated. She had to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The doctors told her that her chances of long-term survival were 50-50.
Thankfully, the treatment worked! She has since fully recovered, and according to a recent post, she is the star patient at the hospital where she is undergoing treatment.
However, Carla has a regret. She confesses of having ignored all the reminders of getting a routine smear done. Had she done that, chances of an early detection were high, and she would not have to undergo the ordeal. And so, she has decided to spread awareness about cancer.
She participated in the Stand Up 2 Cancer great canoe challenge, 2017. A CancerResearch.uk initiative, it involved 4 cancer survivors who participated in a 120-mile canoeing marathon spread over 5 days. Many local celebrities joined the cause to raise awareness and funds.
Talking about her treatment experience, she says,
"It was the worst time of my life. I had the chemo, the radio, the sickness, the steroids and pills – at one point I was taking 21 tablets a day and morphine.’ After treatment, Carla got the all clear in March 2013, a moment she’ll never forget."
After treatment, Carla got the all clear in March 2013, something she can never forget. And her recovery has been amazing. From being unable to stand in the shower to canoeing over 100 miles, I salute her spirit!
The cancer of the cervix is the 10th most common cancer in Singapore, and the good news is, the incidence is declining. And it is so, all thanks to the screening initiatives taken by the Singapore Cancer Society.
According to the SCS recommendations, a woman should get a pap smear
- After the age of 25, till age 69
- Having engaged in sexual intercourse or who is sexually active
- Every 3 years
So, if you are a Singapore resident or PR, you can book your test by contacting the Singapore Cancer Society.
As they say, womanly intuition is incredible. But it is not enough to detect cancer, so please watch this video By the Singapore Cancer Society.
The good news is, in most instances, it is a slow-growing cancer. And so, timely screening is the key to early detection and treatment of this. So mums, get yourself screened today.