FROM MID-NORTH COAST NSW IS A SURVIVOR OF CERVICAL CANCER
Lauren Brady was only 33 with 3 young children when she was diagnosed with an aggressive cervical cancer.
I’ll never forget the words the doctor said to me on the phone. “Have you got somebody with you?”
I nearly collapsed. I managed to choke out “Please don’t say that. Please don’t say that.” But stopping him saying the words wasn’t going to stop the reality. I ran outside calling to my husband Chad to come to me. And the doctor said the words that I wished with all my heart he wouldn’t: “I’m sorry Lauren. But I need to let you know you have cancer of the cervix.”
I couldn’t believe what was being told. I was a mum of three kids – Cooper is 8, Riley, 7, and Chloe is 3. I’d recently gone on a huge health kick – my chocolate addiction was gone and I was eating healthily. We lived a happy, outdoorsy life – I worked in a local pharmacy and in wellness marketing and we run a horse training business. I played soccer regularly. This felt like a kick in the teeth. I just looked at Chad and I shook my head before putting the doctor on speaker. Chad just started to cry. And then the doctor said, “We need to act quickly. It’s a rare, aggressive type. It’s not the normal kind.”
I was only 33.
“What do we need to do? I need to be here for my kids. I need to be here to grow old with my husband.”
Two days later and I was being barraged with tests. I had grade 3 adenosquamous cervical cancer. All I could think was “How do I get rid of it? How do I get rid of it?” And, “What do we do? I need to be here for my kids. I need to be here to grow old with my husband.”
The doctors told me I’d need a radical hysterectomy – that’s my cervix, my uterus, my ovaries, plus all the surrounding lymph nodes and my pelvic lymph nodes as well. I thought, fine. Do it. Chad and I had talked about more kids – we’d always said if we won the lottery we’d have more – but once I found out I needed this operation I realised that we were so blessed to have the kids we had. I just wanted them to get it out of me.
I had to wait five weeks which was gruelling – every niggle made me think it was spreading further.
I just kept saying to the doctors “I don’t want to die”.
“The doctors told me I’d need a radical hysterectomy – that’s my cervix, my uterus, my ovaries…”
The hysterectomy in September last year went well, followed by five weeks of radiation and chemo. I’ve been told that it’s unlikely to come back which I keep reminding myself. It was so hard for a while not to think the worst – I’d even imagine family gathered around my bed and thinking that I wouldn’t see them in 12 months time. I’d imagine what would happen if I hadn’t had that pap smear when I had abnormal bleeding. But I do everything I can not to think about that any more.
“If I could say something to other women is please, please don’t neglect your Pap smears.”
People across NSW have been supported through their cancer journey by services and programs provided by Cancer Council NSW. Hear their stories.
The impact of cancer is far more wide ranging than simply physical health. People affected by cancer face a wide range of both practical and emotional challenges. Here we share the stories of people who have experienced the support available through Cancer Council NSW from the rural West to the coastal edge.
The information, support services and accommodation provided helped to make their journeys easier.