When I was 26, I went to see my GP for a prescription and asked for a Pap test as well. I was lucky I did this. A few days and several tests later, doctors confirmed I had cervical adenocarcinoma, which is rare and more aggressive than 80% of cases of cervical cancer.
I was warned that the treatment I needed could leave me infertile, and this was a frightening and devastating concept at 26 years of age. My oncologist organised a quick IVF treatment to harvest and store my eggs before my cancer treatment.
Everything went quite fast – there was a real sense of urgency. About eight weeks after I had the Pap test, I was in hospital having major surgery. Because I still wanted to try to have children, I had a trachelectomy, instead of a full hysterectomy. This means the majority of my uterus wasn’t removed and I was told I may be able to get pregnant in the future if my cancer doesn’t return.
Two years after surgery, my fertility was assessed and my husband Murray and I fell pregnant naturally. My son Baxter was born in November 2017, making me one of the first women in Australia to have a successful pregnancy and birth without a cervix.
Though I had fantastic support from family and friends, there comes a point where all you really want is to talk to someone who’d been through something similar – I felt incredibly alone. That’s why I became a peer-support volunteer with Cancer Council.
One of the greatest things about Cancer Connect is that I’m able to make others laugh. When I went through treatment, I really valued people who helped me make light of the situation, rather than keeping it so serious all the time. I really enjoy lending support to women going through the same thing now.