Here's the complication of my blogs from 2013-2014 which talk about my previous experience with cervical smear testing and my close call with cervical cancer
14th July 2013
Finally, after 8 months of fighting with my GP’s at South Axholme Practise Doctors surgery, I was granted a smear test, and await the results. It took for me to push to be referred to gynaecology for a colposcopy. I had Dr Rabani who is the registra of Mr Bappa at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. It was a nerve-racking experience but I was made to feel very comfortable.
I’ve been experiencing issues since November 2012 and I’ve now decided that things within the health service need to change, therefore I am happy to speak out and share my experience with you all.
Because I’m under 25 I was refused a smear test. Many women under 25 die from cervical cancer because they are refused a smear test. I’d like you to read this young girls story http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/10015552/Woman-died-after-being-refused-smear-test-for-being-too-young.html
When my national busking tour is over, I am going to push my absolute hardest and challenge as many officials along the way as it takes to change the current legislation.
I’m truly disappointed with the doctors I dealt with at both epworth and Belton surgeries with this situation. It’s very likely that my results will return clear and god I hope so, but I will still fight for this change, please fight with me
I’d love your support xxx
23rd August 2013
On July 14th I opened up about my experience regarding smear testing in under 25’s.
I Promised that I would let you know the results. After about 9 months I finally managed to get referred to Gynaecology for a smear test and scans. The results have shown that I have a cyst on one of my ovaries and I do have abnormal cells. I must go for another scan to see if the cyst has gone and a colposcopy which does not sound fun lol. There are more women than we think that go through this process.
I can only tell you how I feel about the whole situation, and that is disappointment. I’m disappointed that it has taken so long to get a smear test, when I had obvious issues, and still feel passionate after reading many upsetting articles about how girls under 25 have been affected by this rule in such a negative way.
I am going to campaign, when things calm down a bit, and I hope that you will all join me.
Lots of love xxx
4th September 2013
I had another ultrasound last week and can reveal that the cyst has gone. I am so pleased. One of my brides was in there for her 20 week scan as well 🙂
Today is the day of the Colposcopy. I’m a little nervous and not quite sure what happens after today. I’ll just be pleased to get myself sorted out and then I can look at campaigning to try and lower the age for smear tests.
I’ll let you know how it all goes
Be thinking of me at 2:45pm
8th November 2013
Rushed to hospital…Taking some time out…
So, the last few days has been a bit rocky, scary in fact. I had my loop diathermy treatment on wednesday, 2:15pm. Samantha (MUA) took me to the hospital (Doncaster Royal). I was really pleased when I got there and found out Sister Dee Johnson was doing my treatment. She’s like, the boss of gynaecology, lovely lady. She sat me down first to tell me the findings of my biopsy. “Now, I don’t want you to worry,” she said, “We found that the abnormal cells are advanced stage 3 PRE cancerous, they are pre cancerous darling so everything is going to be ok,” Wow, hearing those words was frightening. Suddenly I felt really lonely, trapped almost, in a bubble. I turned and looked at Samantha…I found it hard to focus. All these emotions came rushing, relief, anger, sadness, fear…but it was all going to be ok, because they caught them just in time. I felt blessed that I was so lucky.
The treatment was, erm, not nice. Dee explained what they were going to do, how it would feel, how my body would react. First they needed to inject my cervix, this had adrenaline in it. I was already shaking. Sam came over and held my hand. The first injection went in, and I’m not going to lie, some foul language came out of my mouth. The second injection went in, and I could feel my body starting to react. My legs felt like jelly, my heart was pounding, my mouth filled with saliva, and then the shaking started. all of my senses were heightened. I felt like I could have run a marathon at 100mph. I really needed to calm down, but I couldn’t.
The treatment started, I could see smoke coming out of my hoo ha which was strange haha…as you can probably imagine. It didn’t hurt, but it was a strange sensation. Dee cauterised the wound to stop it from bleeding. It was all over, that was it, for another 6 months.
The nurses helped me up, and took me into a little room to talk over the after care, what would happen and what shouldn’t happen. They were fantastic, honestly, the care they gave me was amazing.
Sam took me home. Walking or sitting down was not easy, it was really sore, painful even. And being the brave girl that I am, I didn’t take any pain killers. We ate rubbish and watched a dvd…oh and my mum cooked us an amazing dinner. Bed time came. I was feeling sorry for myself so dived into a 500ml tub of Hagen Daaz Belgian chocolate ice cream = heaven. And yes, I almost ate the full tub.
The disprin came out at 10:30pm, I was in so much pain and wanted to get a good sleep. At 2am I started to wake up. I was laying there thinking, surely it’s not time to wake up yet, but my body was telling me to get up. I turned and put the bed side lamp on. Something didn’t feel right. I looked down, and was absolutely covered in blood, it was pouring out of me like something from a horror movie. Normally this is the sort of thing that I would freak out about, but for some reason, I was surprisingly calm. “I’ll go and get a hot drink and sit for a minute,” I thought, after cleaning myself up. As I was sat there, I thought, “I’ll just ring G5 (ward) and ask if this is normal”, it was certainly not normal. “Right my love, I want you to get to A&E as soon as you can,” said the lady on the phone. Oh god. (By the way, re living this experience by writing about it is not easy). I casually (what the hell) walked into my mums room and calmly said “mum, you need to take me to a&e”, when she saw what was happening, she knew it was serious, now she tells me. There was no way we could wait for an ambulance, not with the amount of blood I was losing. We were straight in the car…but the motorway was closed. The journey to the hospital seemed like it took forever.
By the time we arrived, my clean clothes were soaked in blood. I was scared, really scared. (And also a little hacked off because those jogging bottoms cost £50 haha). After checking my blood pressure, temperature, oxygen levels, and handing over some very sexy adult nappies, they wheeled me up to ward G5, straight into a treatment room. “If we can’t stop the bleeding, you’re going to have to go to theatre,” the lady informed me. Now I was bricking myself. They opened me up but the blood was coming out so fast that it was hard for the consultant to see exactly where the bleed was coming from. The silver nitrate came out and went in to heel the wound and try to stop the bleeding. Mum was holding my hand the whole time. I could see by her face that she was scared, she was trying to hide it. It was now 4:30am, and I had no idea how many hours I’d been losing blood for. I was feeling weak, and exhausted. The bleeding had stopped. “We’re going to put you under observation on the ward, try and get some sleep. The doctor will see you in the morning and decide if we need to take you to theatre.”
It was 5:30am now. They wheeled me into a room with 4 beds, 3 were taken. There was an old lady awake in the bed next to mine. “We’ll look after her, don’t worry,” she whispered to my mum. “Come on girls, wake up, we have a newbie,” she said. My mum went home to get some things for me and to get some sleep ready for the morning. I prayed all night (which was actually only 4 hours, but felt like an entire night) that I wouldn’t have to go to theatre. We all chatted and I drifted in and out of sleep every so often. The doctor came around, it must have been 9:30-10am, to check the bleeding. About 6 members of medical staff came to my bed and pulled the curtain around which was a bit daunting. I was given the all clear, I could go home and rest, and then return at tea time to get my antibiotics for the week.
When mum came to get me, I just broke down. The realisation of what had happened hit me, and I just couldn’t control the tears. She was about to go and get the car but she didn’t want to leave me so upset. Then a lady approached, I wasn’t sure if I recognised her. “Alex, I didn’t recognise you (that’s because I looked like a vampire minus the fangs at this point), Carole, you go get the car, I’ll look after her,” it was andrea, she lives in the house behind ours and was with her mum. They both sat with me and looked after me until my mum got back. It was so lovely that they did that. My dad was upset because he had been working away in Bristol and wished he could have been there for support, but we have spoke on the phone.
I’ve been back home for 30 hours now, and every thing seems to be fine. My bleeding is normal, i’m just really weak and exhausted…and still rocking the vampire look (minus the fangs). I was ordered to cancel my work for this weekend, which I was really upset about. Never in my career (11years) have I ever cancelled a booking, even when I had campylobacter and should have been off work for a good 3-4 weeks. Pete Hartley has been a life saver and stepped in for me for the weekend. I have to thank the bride and my other clients for being so understanding. I am every so sorry that I can’t be there.
I’ve been bed bound all day…and since I got home yesterday. I am going to try a stroll in the morning to the shop with my mum, get some fresh air and light exercise, which is something that I’m not going to be able to do for a few weeks. I am really going to miss my gym routines…but, needs must.
Thank you to everyone that has sent me some lovely messages of love and support, and thank you to Suzy for the beautiful flowers that you sent, before the haemorrhage even happened, you must have felt it in your gut haha.
Love to you all
10th November 2013
It feels so strange to have been laid in bed (or on the sofa) for 3 days (and most of wednesday). I am so used to being up and about, running everywhere with my hectic lifestyle. I feel a bit stronger than I did, but still pretty weak. Mum has gone back to work today so it’s time to start doing everything for myself again. I felt really bad having her do everything for me. She definitely deserves a treat when I am better. Best mum in the world. I have no idea how she handled all of this with such calm.
I’d managed to not take pain killers until yesterday. i’m not one for taking medication unless I really need it, but the pain was almost unbearable. You know, when you just want someone to magic it all away?!
One of my closest friends, Suzy is visiting me today. I can’t wait to see her, it has been ages.
Tomorrow I am going to sit in the office and start back with my work (emails and stuff). I don’t want to get behind on paperwork. Although saying that, I have 136 e-mails and a huge pile of post. I think the album is going to have to go to one side for a little bit and the music video, until I’m 100% better. I suppose sometimes, it’s your body telling you to slow down, and take a break. I think I’ll try and catch up on blogging later today, about the past few weeks, you know, weddings, shows, photo shoots…
Thank you for all of my well wishes. I am taking doctors orders and doing as I am told, although a nice long stroll somewhere would be nice 😦 I’m not allowed yet
11th November 2013
Well, yesterday was a difficult day. My coordination was awful. I felt like I was walking wonky and standing up unaided was a struggle. Such a shock to the system because I had been doing so well. Suzy arrived just in time. I was starting to get frustrated because I had attempted to pour cereal into a bowl but it was going everywhere, and then I couldn’t get the lids on two bottles for ages. I was about to attempt to chop an onion and put the lamb in the slow cooker while propping myself up, when Suzy took the knife off me. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, I’ll do it,” bless her, she did everything for me.
It was really lovely to see her. Such a good friend. I worn out already when she arrived so as soon as she left I went to bed. Napping is something I’ve been doing regularly, well, I say napping, I can’t really call it that. They are reaaaaaaaally long naps haha.
I woke up feeling incredible weak, with a funny sensation in my arms and legs. They were freezing, and, erm, sort of, pins and needly without the tingly sensation and weak. That’s the only way I can think to describe the feeling. Mum served up a lamb dinner (iron rich) and I ate everything including seconds. Determined to recover quickly. Within 30mins, my arms and legs began to feel normal again.
Today has been much better, a much stronger day. I tried to do a bit of work today but didn’t get far, I was knackered by 12noon, so, again, 1pm came and I went to bed. I managed to get out today after my nap, only to the bank and Tesco. Mum took me to costa and we sat and read the paper, well I couldn’t focus so I just looked at the pictures haha. They have some yummy christmassy drinks in. I had a white hot chocolate with cream and raspberry sauce. Gold stars were sprinkled on top 🙂 very pretty, and certainly brightened my day. Some good news also brightened my day 🙂 one of my closest friends is pregnant, I woke up to a scan picture on my phone hehe so excited for her, and her partner…and another one of my friends got engaged. Beaming!!!
I found something earlier today that my mum had given to me when I as going through a rough time earlier this year. I really love it, it made me think. In fact, it’s all I’ve been doing since I got rushed to hospital…
I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It will be a stronger day, and my last day of taking medication YAY
I’m sending love to one of my friends today. He went into hospital with a burst appendix the day that I got out, and he had it removed. We were going to make the nurses wheel each other across the hospital so we could be poorly together haha but I was discharged before we got chance. I had a message early this morning saying that he was allowed to go home, but by late afternoon he had to go back in. I’ve not heard from him since so I’m feeling anxious. Really hope he is ok. If I could drive I’d go and visit him
Health and happiness to you all, don’t forget, it always comes first
28th November 2013
Well, I’m just awaiting my final biopsy results from the treatment to make sure all the abnormal cells have gone, and I return in 6 months for another smear test. My ultimate aim is to get something positive from this experience, and lower the age of smear testing, even if they only lower it to 23, it’s a start. I found a petition that Take a Break magazine started, so rather than start a fresh one, I thought I’d promote this one. They only need 663 more signatures. Please take the time to sign this petition and send it around your friends and family. This really could save lives
Thank you to all of you for your support. it’s really helped me through
Lots of love Alexandra xxx
Later that day: 28th November 2013
Well today feels like it has been really productive so far. Amongst responding to my clients, I have been working to raise awareness of the whole smear testing under 25’s issue, having recently received treatment for advanced stage 3 pre cancerous cells found from a smear test which took me a year to get due to being under 25. I was very lucky – some are not so lucky
First I spoke to the Mayor of North Lincolnshire’s Secretary (I worked with the mayor on Saturday night). She advised that I speak to my local MP rather than the mayor, so she gave me the details of Andrew Percy’s office. I called the office and spoke to a lovely man called Robert Lingard who is the Senior caseworker and researcher for Andrew Percy. I have to say, I am very impressed with the response that I have received from Andrew Percy’s office, they have been caring, warm, kind, interested, and helpful.
“Thank you for this, I’m really sorry to hear that and we wish you all the best. Let me know if you want us to chase anything with the Trust.”
Robert informed me that NHS England has been contacted in March 2013 regarding this issue, and he e-mailed me their letter of response.
It appears that NHS England don’t see this issue as an important matter. Reading their response made me feel angry, upset, and honestly a little helpless. This is going to take some serious fighting to make change. I am willing to stand and fight for this, and I will not stop, until action is taken.
I have attached photos below of their letter of response if you fancy reading the whole thing, but to summarise what NHS England have said, there aren’t enough cases of cervical cancer in under 25’s to warrant the smear testing age to be lowered. I do however have a point to make on this statement that they made:
…it is really important that women with symptoms, irrespective of age should inform their GP who will refer them appropriately …
Having turned 24 on 27th September, I informed my GP from October/November 2012 about abnormal bleeding and other related symptoms, and returned monthly with related issues. Referrals and smear tests were refused. I was not being listened to, and there was nothing that I could do about it. I rang the local private hospital (Park Hill) to enquire about paying for a smear test. They informed me that I could do this but would have to be referred by a GP. I had hit a dead end.
Currently I am investigating possible routes that could be taken to make a change. If anyone has any ideas, or contacts that may be useful, please get in touch. Your support will be much appreciated.
Alexandra xx PS below is the letter from NHS England to Andrew Percy