Mum-to-be reveals she had to make heartbreaking choice whether to terminate her pregnancy or risk dying from cervical cancer
Looking at the positive result on the pregnancy test, I felt my heart lurch. It should have been one of the happiest moments of my life, but instead I was terrified.
Just a few days earlier I’d had a biopsy to find out whether I had cervical cancer and I couldn’t think about anything else.
I’d gone for a routine smear test in October 2016, after months of putting it off because I was so busy.
By the time I got the results two weeks later, I’d already put it to the back of my mind.
But when the letter told me I needed further tests, I couldn’t help worrying.
My husband Ben tried to reassure me everything would be OK, but after my biopsy in November I began feeling sick every morning.
At first I thought it was anxiety, but then I wondered if it could be something else. I’d suffered a miscarriage the year before, which had left me devastated.
And while we weren’t actively trying to conceive again, we weren’t exactly being careful either.
But when I took a pregnancy test and it showed a positive result, it was hard to feel excited when I was so concerned about my health.
Although Ben was happy, we agreed not to tell anyone apart from immediate family until we knew the results of my biopsy.
Two weeks later, I sat in the consultant’s office and was told the awful news that I had cervical cancer.
I’d tried to prepare myself for the worst, but the shock of hearing the words out loud made me sob. When I looked at Ben, he too was struggling to speak.
The consultant explained my cancer was stage 1B1 – although it hadn’t spread beyond the tissues of my cervix, it measured a few centimetres and I would need surgery to remove it. Then he gave me an impossible choice.
He said I could keep the baby and have an early Caesarean followed by a hysterectomy at the same time but risk the cancer spreading, which could kill me.
Or my best chance at survival would be a termination followed by a hysterectomy to reduce the risk of the cancer returning. It meant I would never get the chance to have a baby.
As we sat on the sofa that evening in tears, I just felt so helpless.
Ben gently told me that as much as he’d love to have a baby, he loved me more, and there were other options to have a child if we wanted to in the future.
It was such a hard choice to make, but eventually we agreed that losing the baby was the right decision for us.
Even so, I still felt sick at the thought of it and it didn’t stop me from worrying what people would think.
On December 17, 2016, after a scan confirmed I was around 10 weeks pregnant, I went to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and took the pills that would terminate my pregnancy.
As I sat on the ward and waited for it to happen, I couldn’t help but cry for the second baby I’d lost in a year.
Our families were so supportive, but it was still hard, especially as my sister Leigh, 33, a nursery teacher, was three months pregnant.
While I insisted that I was OK, I knew she stifled her excitement around me, and as her tummy grew I would get pangs of sadness about what could have been for me and Ben.
My hysterectomy was scheduled for February 2, but as I waited to go into surgery I saw a different consultant.
He suggested I have a procedure called a trachelectomy, which only a few consultants offered.
It would mean only removing my cervix rather than uterus, as well as some lymph nodes, and meant I might still conceive one day.
I jumped at the chance. The procedure took six hours and I went home the following day. I was in a lot of pain, but relieved I might still get to be a mum.
Thankfully I’ve been in remission ever since and when I had a smear test recently it came back all clear, which was amazing news.
But I’ll never forget what I went through, which is why I recently shaved my head to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
I’ll also never forget the babies I lost, especially the one that saved my life.
It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but I know it was the right one for us.
- Women aged 21-49 should have a smear test every three years, and women aged 50-64 should be tested every five years.
- About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.
- Source: NHS
- Peri recently took part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s Brave the Shave campaign (Bravetheshave.org.uk)
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