Lindsay's story

Lindsay McNaught, from Scotland, had to face up to the fact that she would never be able to have children of her own following treatment for cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Here is her story in her own words.

I was on honeymoon in November 2006 when I first noticed a bit of irregular bleeding. I thought, Oh no, not another period, I've only just finished. But there was no pain, or bleeding after sex. Back home when I saw my doctor, he gave me a prescription for thrush. He didn't examine me, but he told me I was due fora smear. I hadn't been for about ten years, and eventually went in January.

This was followed by a colposcopyClose examination of the cervix of the uterus using a magnifying instrument with attached light source, known as a colposcope. on 20 February 2007, at which the doctor also took 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.. Tests and diagnosis

I didn't cry, although my husband did. I think I was in shock. I was so matter -of-fact, but the next day it really hit me. I was more upset knowing I would never have children than being told I had cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

By then I had an awful smell coming from down below. I was also feeling pretty bad, light-headed, with headaches, flushes, and I felt a bit sick. A week or so later I was called back to the hospital. I was 38 and hoping to have children, but as soon as I walked in the door, all those hopes disappeared. I was told I had cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., and would never have children.

The prognosis was good, but I would need to have a hysterectomyThe surgical removal of the uterus (womb)., when doctors removed my cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus. and womb.

I didn't cry, although my husband did. I think I was in shock. I was so matter -of-fact, but the next day it really hit me. I was more upset knowing I would never have children than being told I had cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

In March, 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 and then met my oncologist. My tumour was now 5cm wide. The oncologist explained he was part of a worldwide clinical trial, which involved a treatment where chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. is used to shrink the tumour, followed by a radical hysterectomyThe surgical removal of the uterus (womb)..

I was eligible, and I thought I had nothing to lose. So on 9 April I began chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer.. This ended on 28 May 2007.

Tragically, it didn't work. When I went for my check-up on 20 June, I was told my tumour hadn't shrunk, but had grown slightly bigger. I was shocked. I would now have to have standard chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. and radiotherapy but when a letter arrived with my appointment it was not going to be until 17 September. I was frantic with worry about how big my tumour was going to be by then.

Finally, after furiously ringing the hospital, I was told I could start chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. on 6 August, followed several days later by the start of my radiotherapy.

My biggest regret is having ignored my repeated invitations for a smear. I have beaten myself up about this, but I don't have a time machine and have to learn to accept my mistake. Lindsay

On my way to the chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. appointment I began bleeding again, and at the hospital haemorraged a bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. clot the size of my hand. I ended up being given three pints of bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. and my chemotherapyThe use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. at the same time.

That night, back at home, I began bleeding again. I was admitted to hospital again. Then I began a course of six chemotherapies, with radiotherapy every day Monday to Friday for 25 sessions, finishing with brachytherapyA type of radiotherapy where radioactive pellets or wires are inserted into the tumour.. Treatments

Looking back, I wish I had never entered the trial. I know that my recovery has taken longer because of it. I am now fully menopausalRelating to the menopause, the time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle.. I am on hormone replacement therapyThe administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body. Abbreviated to HRT. every day and will be for at least the next ten years. I get tired more easily, and I am still scared of having sex.

I don't attend any support groups, and maybe I should. I am still off work but am hoping to go back very soon. Living with

My biggest regret is having ignored my repeated invitations for a smear. I have beaten myself up about this, but I don't have a time machine and have to learn to accept my mistake.