“It would have been a completely different story if I hadn’t reached out. That support was life-saving.”
Cervical cancer survivor Bridget Montague contacted Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 Information and Support line to help her cope with anxiety that her cancer could return. Bridget credits the service with helping her cope as she was going through an incredibly difficult period in her life.
A routine checkup that turned my life upside down
“It was the end of 2019 and, unknown to me, my life was about to change. I’d been to a regular GP check-up appointment and was reminded that I was overdue for my cervical screening test. I had the test and went on my way, thinking nothing more of it.
“It was one week later that I received a call from the Doctor and from there, life spiralled. I was diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer and my world seemed to fall apart. I can’t remember much at all from that first week after diagnosis, other than that my first thought was that I needed to let work know that I couldn’t come in. I was worried they would be understaffed – it was my way of keeping myself distracted and pushing my emotions away.”
Waiting for treatment
“After seeing a gynaecologist who confirmed my cancer diagnosis, I was told the cancerous cells were higher up in the cervix than they had thought and I would need to be referred to a specialist hospital in Sydney. This meant I had a bit more time before my operation to get my head together and take a breath.
“My mum had picked up one of Cancer Council’s information booklets on cervical cancer. If I had any questions, I’d look at the booklet – in fact, I’m still using it to this day! Two cone biopsies later, I was cancer free and started my remission journey.”
“After my final operation, when I should have been getting back to normality, I was overwhelmed with anxiety about the cancer coming back. I remembered seeing the number for Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 Information and Support line on the cervical cancer booklet, so I decided to give them a call.
“I felt like the person on the end of the phone understood what I was going through. I was referred to a counselling service and I know it would have been a completely different story if I hadn’t reached out and called 13 11 20. That support was life-saving.
“My anxiety comes and goes but now I use the tools I’ve learnt through my counselling sessions and remind myself that I am closer each day to completing remission. I started booking things to look forward to and despite COVID-19 postponing some of my plans, I managed to do a Bridge Climb in Sydney which was amazing!”
Using my experience to help others
“I wanted to give back, so I signed up to walk 50km to raise funds for Cancer Council through Do It For Cancer. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing, but I loved it!
“I want to use my experience to tell other women about the importance of keeping on top of your screening. If I had put this off for another year, I may have had an entirely different outcome. Early detection made treatment easier and for this I am thankful every day.”
If you’ve been affected by cancer and would like to talk to someone, call our free, confidential information and support line on 13 11 20.
We are grateful to the Dry July Foundation for supporting Cancer Council for eight years through the Dry July campaign, with funds raised going towards our vital 13 11 20 information and support service since 2019. Without support from partners like the Dry July Foundation and our community, we couldn’t run vital services, such as 13 11 20, for people impacted by cancer and their loved ones. Find out more about Dry July.