Cervical Cancer Symptoms: Finance Manager Says Doctors Rejected Four Signs

A finance manager who lost her mother to uterine cancer in her mid-twenties and later developed cervical cancer herself said she knew she had to be “strong for the family” because she feared her children were “too young to not be a mother” .

Crystal Manuel, who lives in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, lost her mother, Dolores, to uterine cancer when she was 26, and was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 37 after experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding for about a year.

The mother-of-two, now 39, explained that she had heavier and more painful periods, lower back pain, “shooting pains in (her) legs” and bleeding after sex, but despite several GP visits, “they chose not to pick anything up.” and her symptoms continued.

After pushing for a diagnosis, Crystal was diagnosed with cervical adenocarcinoma about a year later, which she said was “really scary” — especially since her mother had passed away three months after being diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Now, as a cancer survivor, Crystal wants to stress the importance of “(listening) to your body” and being checked to see if “something is (not) right”.

“(My mom) was 49 and she was experiencing the bleeding and the doctors just thought she had fibroids so she went in for a hysterectomy and when she went in for her pre-surgery assessment they found out it wasn’t only fibroids – it was cancer.

“Unfortunately it was late; she was diagnosed in November and she had died in February of the following year, three months later.

“It just got caught too late.”

She added: “It was very scary (when I was diagnosed) because it was only three months with her and she was gone, and she always said to us, ‘When you feel pain’ – because she probably ignored it too quite a while – ‘just go and get checked’.

Cervical cancer is a cancer found anywhere in the cervix – the opening between the vagina and uterus – and it currently kills two women every day in the UK, according to the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

Symptoms include unusual vaginal bleeding, changes in vaginal discharge, pain during sex, or pain in your lower back.

(PA Real Life)

A cervical exam, known as a Pap smear, checks the health of the cervix and is a test to help prevent cancer – and even though Crystal’s results came back negative, the bleeding continued and she knew “something wasn’t right”.

Crystal said it was extremely difficult to get a GP appointment due to the coronavirus pandemic, but after insisting to be seen she was given an appointment and referred to Southampton General Hospital where she had a cervical biopsy underwent.

Weeks later, she received the devastating news that she had cervical cancer and underwent an MRI and CT scan.

Considering Crystal’s mother had passed away three months after her diagnosis, Crystal said it was “really scary”.

“I was very scared…I lost my mom to uterine cancer, so that made it even scarier,” she said.

“As a mother you worry more; you are anxious and (you) get stressed because you don’t know how bad it is and you expect the worst.”

(PA Real Life)

However, despite Crystal’s fears, she knew she had to be strong for her husband, Clive, 39, a regional manager for British Gas, and her two children, Camron, 15, and Chaia, 12, because she didn’t want to worry. (her family”.

She continued: “I have two kids and a husband so it was very scary but obviously you have to be strong for the family.

“What’s going to happen is going to happen, but when you have kids, you just think to yourself, they’re too young not to have a mother.”

Crystal explained that while she sometimes feared the worst, her diagnosis was “not a death sentence” and she was “trying to carry on as normal”.

She feels her positive attitude was fundamental to helping her through her treatment, which included a radical hysterectomy – a surgical procedure to remove the uterus – five rounds of chemotherapy, five weeks of daily radiotherapy, followed by two weeks of brachytherapy.

Crystal said she recovered well from the hysterectomy and didn’t lose her hair because of the type of chemotherapy she underwent, but she experienced some “terrible” side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, aching bones and loss of appetite. , as well as going into menopause.

While trying her hardest to stay positive during treatment, Crystal explained that she felt “down some days.”

(PA Real Life)

She even remembers crying in front of one of the nurses and saying, “I can’t do this anymore.”

However, Crystal knew she had to “get through it,” and it’s only now that she’s beginning to process the impact of her diagnosis and treatment.

“Looking back now, I actually feel sorry for myself; I think, oh my god, I’ve actually been through so much,” she said.

“But at that point, I think, because you just have to get through it, it’s like being in survival mode.

“You’re in pain and a lot is happening – my blood pressure dropped and I passed out and was nauseous – but when I look back on it, it’s like it never happened.

“At that point you know you just have to accept it, you have no other choice.”

Three months after Crystal’s treatment ended, she got the “all clear” and now has checkups every few months.

(PA Real Life)

While she felt a sense of “relief” and happiness when she was in remission, and her physical health has improved since then, Crystal explained that the past two years have been difficult to process, adding: “Everything happened so fast … it’s surreal.

“Of course you’re happy (to be cancer-free), but you don’t feel super happy because I think you’re still processing it mentally — everything you’ve been through.”

Crystal explained that her diagnosis and treatment “taught her (her) a lot about life and what’s important in life,” adding, “In reality, we’re all not here forever, so for me, I’m living differently now; I live life (to the full).”

Now Crystal wants to encourage other women to get a Pap smear and push for a diagnosis if they feel “something is (not) right.”

“Just listen to your body, because luckily for me, that’s how I detected it,” she said.

“I knew something wasn’t right… (but) I had to push to be seen.

“Advocate yourself, (and) if you have any symptoms, or anything that you feel is not right, with anything in your body, go and get checked.

“(My mother’s cancer) was caught too late and she said, ‘Any aches or pains, just go and get checked,’ and I agree.”

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is launching its biggest campaign ever, #WeCan End Cervical Cancer, to work towards a day when cervical cancer is a thing of the past. You can find more information by visiting: www.jostrust.org.uk/ccpw

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