Coral's story

Coral, a New Zealander living in the UK, is now living free of cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Here she shares her story of a tough and highly emotional journey towards this.

I first noticed something was wrong when I started bleeding between my periods. The bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. was a dark, rusty, brown colour, as though it was rather old. I noticed the bleeding was worse when I went running, so stopped going as much.

But when the bleeding continued I went to see my doctor. She thought it might be the pill and we tried another type. That didn't work, however, and she referred me to a gynaecologist. By now the bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. had become bright red and fresh. Signs and symptoms

I remember asking my surgeon two things: one, was there time to have a baby, and two, was there time to look at other options? He said no.

The gynaecologist was away in Europe at the time, but when he came back two months later everything happened so fast. I had a colposcopyClose examination of the cervix of the uterus using a magnifying instrument with attached light source, known as a colposcope.. The week afterwards I had a cone biopsyThe removal of a cone-shaped section of tissue from the cervix of the uterus, which is then sent to a laboratory for examination; this may be curative as well as diagnostic.. I wasn't particularly worried. In my naïve state of mind I just saw these things as check-ups. Further tests

But then the gynaecologist told me I had cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., and needed a radical hysterectomyThe surgical removal of the uterus (womb).. Treatments

I was shaking and crying and completely overwhelmed. My first thought was for my husband, and that we wouldn't have kids.

I remember asking my surgeon two things: one, was there time to have a baby, and two, was there time to look at other options? He said no: my tumour was 2cm big and I had a very aggressive type of cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. - although he didn't give me any more specifics. Five days later, he operated.

I will always remember my gynaecologist telling me afterwards: 'You'll be fine. But there will never be a time you will be able to forget this.' He was right. Physically I was pretty fit and healthy after six months, but my marriage soon broke down. My husband had been very supportive during my illness, but not being able to have children was a massive blow.

Of course I live with the negatives of my cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., but it has also made me more focused, determined and ambitious in life.

I was also going through huge psychological changes, questioning who I was, and what I going to do with my life now I couldn't have children. I wanted to stop messing about with things that weren't working, and be proactive and positive.

Given the technology available back then, I definitely got the best treatment. My gynaecologist was fantastic, and gave me personal time and care. I appreciated his frankness and invaluable advice.

There are, however, more options available today. Had MRIAn abbreviation for magnetic resonance imaging, a technique for imaging the body that uses electromagnetic waves and a strong magnetic field. scans been around it might have been possible to see whether I only needed the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus. removing instead of a radical hysterectomyThe surgical removal of the uterus (womb). and that might have meant I could still have had children.

Now 17 years on, I really know the long-term impact cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. has on your life, and what it is to live with the treatment. I am now living in the UK with a new partner. But I am still dealing with the issues. Living with

About a year and a half ago I discovered the cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. charity, Jo's Trust www.jotrust.co.uk when I was looking to see if there were people at the same stage in life as me, who had had cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

Of course I live with the negatives of my cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., but it has also made me more focused, determined and ambitious in life.