Fiona's story

Fiona, a primary teacher from the West Midlands in the UK, shares her story in her own words. Her doctor first thought she was suffering from a urinary infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites.. In fact, she had stage two cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

"The fact I was diagnosed with cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. when I was is a bit of a fluke. I had a smear in February 2007 and it had come back clear, but by the summer I was having severe period-like cramps and bleeding in between my periods. On 11 September, I went to my doctor. He said it might be a urinary infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. and gave me some painkillers, but referred me to a gynaecologist.

That night I woke up needing the loo and fainted on the bathroom floor. I went to casualty the next day and was sent to gynaecology, where I had an internal investigation. I was told to come back in a week, which I did, and then a gynaecologist did a biopsyThe removal of a small sample of cells or tissue so that it may be examined under a microscope. The term may also refer to the tissue sample itself. of the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus..

Even then I don't think it really clicked it might be cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. But I was worried about the pain, which was crippling at times. Sex had also been painful, and I had been bleeding afterwards. Signs and symptoms

My next appointment was on 8 October. I remember walking down the corridor and seeing the gynaecologist I had met last time come out of his door, look behind me, and say: 'Have you got anyone with you?' I replied: 'No, should I have?'

I am staying positive and I want people to know cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. needn't be a death sentence any more. All the children I teach at school know I have had cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., and I am glad they can look at me and say, Miss had it, and survived.

When we went into his room, the chairs were closer to the desk and it was all very cosy. Then he told me they'd found cancerousMalignant, a tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells, and the most bizarre things came out of my mouth. I said: 'I still go clubbing at weekends. I'm not old enough to have cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..' I was swearing a lot, like Hugh Grant in that scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral, and tears were falling down my face but I wasn't crying.

I had an MRIAn abbreviation for magnetic resonance imaging, a technique for imaging the body that uses electromagnetic waves and a strong magnetic field. scan [magnetic resonance imagingA technique for imaging the body that uses electromagnetic waves and a strong magnetic field. - a technique that produces internal body images] on 11 October, and then, on 15 October, went to see an oncologist. I was terrified. It was becoming more and more real.

The next day they examined me under general anaestheticAny agent that reduces or abolishes sensation, affecting the whole body., and once the results came back I was told I had stage 2b cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Tests and diagnosis

I was told I would have to have radiotherapy and chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer.. I began this on 14 November. I had five weeks of chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer., and 28 sessions of radiotherapy lasting until 21 December. I then had 20 hours of brachytherapyA type of radiotherapy where radioactive pellets or wires are inserted into the tumour., which was to provide a direct hit of radiotherapy internally using metal rods inserted through my vagina. This was extremely uncomfortable, as I had to lie in one position throughout the entire treatment. Treatments

I was offered a place on a clinical trial at one point. But I preferred to let the doctors make decisions about my treatment rather than try something unknown.

I am staying positive and I want people to know cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. needn't be a death sentence any more. All the children I teach at school know I have had cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., and I am glad they can look at me and say, Miss had it, and survived.

Before all this, my boyfriend and I had begun trying for a baby, and I think the fact I can't have children will hit me very soon. The chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. and radiotherapy also bring on early menopauseThe time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle., and I will probably have hormone replacement therapyThe administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body. Abbreviated to HRT.. Living with

Overall, I have been amazed at how quick my treatment has been - although a lack of information has been frustrating at times.