A diagnosis of cervical cancer
Samantha Armstrong tells us about the big part Megan Willsher, Cobalt’s Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer nurse played. We spoke to her following her diagnosis of cervical cancer in late summer 2013.
“I had my first (routine) smear test, I was 24. The result was positive, it showed that I was CIN3 in other words the full thickness of the lining covering my cervix had abnormal cells. I was in complete shock.
I was referred to the Colposcopy Clinic at Cirencester Hospital where within two weeks, the abnormal cells had been removed. I had a call from a gynaecologist 7-10 days later and she told me over the phone that the abnormal cells were cancerous and pre-cancerous. It was all a bit of a blur, difficult to take in.
It had been quite a few weeks after my surgery and I hadn’t been offered any help. I had lots of questions I wanted to ask and had tried to contact the clinic. But then I received a letter from Megan, she was suggesting that we meet and that she would bring along a Social Worker to chat with me too. They both travelled to meet with me in Lechlade, close to where I live. It was lovely to be speaking with someone outside of the care I had been receiving, but people who also had specialist knowledge. In practical terms, I was offered financial help to cover hospital travel and to compensate for my time off work which was so helpful too.
I had my last follow-up appointment four months after the surgery and received the all clear. It was a huge weight off my mind. I met with Megan again and this time took my Mum along, she too had so many questions she wanted to ask and Meg was more than happy to see and talk to us both.
I am due to go back in six months for my next check-up and Meg has promised she will text me nearer the time to catch up. It’s comforting to know that she is still there for me even though she must have so many other teenagers and young people with cancer that she is looking after and supporting during their journey.
I’m grateful to Megan and to Cobalt for funding the job she does. She has been such a great support”.
Now, five years on Sam has a healthy 17 month old daughter. When we caught up with her, Sam couldn’t emphasise enough the importance of women having cervical smears:
“I had my first cervical smear test at the age of 25…I was then diagnosed with early stages of cervical cancer. If I hadn’t have had my smear test then and even left it a couple of months I may not have had my beautiful daughter who is almost 17 months old. I am truly blessed! I now have a smear every 12 months for 10 years so its kept on top off. It is so important for woman to attend their smear test”.