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Women urged to seek help to beat cancer early

Samantha Parker with clinical nurse specialist Lorraine Cole

Samantha Parker with clinical nurse specialist Lorraine Cole

Women are being urged to see their doctors if they are worried they may have symptoms of cervical cancer.

And today gynaecological nurse specialist Lorraine Cole is warning women to take care of themselves to reduce the risk of developing the disease.

Lorraine treated Samantha Parker when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March.

Samantha, 41, went to her doctor in July 2012 after suffering irregular bleeding between periods.

Eight months later, after scans and an exploratory operation, her cancer was diagnosed.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it because I felt fine. I didn’t feel poorly at all and I wasn’t in any pain, and nothing had shown up in my cervical smears.

“I thought maybe I was going through early menopause – I didn’t think for one minute it could be cancer but there were no tears, I just wanted it dealing with.

“To be honest, all I could think about was my son, Zakk, who was seven.

“I just wanted it out of my body – having a hysterectomy wasn’t a big thing for me to deal with because I just wanted it out.”

Samantha, of Bispham, was hoping to have the tumour taken out, but test showed it was too big – more than 4cm – to be operated on.

Instead she had to undergo courses of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy (internal radiation).

Half way through her treatment, Samantha got poorly and it had to be suspended for a week.

“I didn’t want to stop,” she said.

“I was thinking that anything could be happening in my body without the treatment and I just wanted the cancer gone.”

When her treatment was over in June, Samantha was given the all clear. She will attend regular check ups over the next five years, but so far things are rosy for the mother of one.

“Everything seems to be OK, but psychologically this is going to be with me forever,” she said.

“I will always think I have cancer.”

Lorraine said it was important that if anyone thinks they have a symptom of cervical cancer that see their GP or family planning clinic and get it checked.

She said: “Women just need to be aware of their own body. Any symptom could be a sign of change in the cells of the cervix, which if left can result in cancer.

“There is a problem in Blackpool with depravation so we see a lot of women who are having sex younger and with multiple partners, which puts them at greater risk of cervical cancer.

“I think young women are also more embarrassed to go to their doctors when they have any problems like this or even for their smear, which is pain free and takes just a minute.

“We see two peaks of higher risk of cervical cancer, one is between the ages of 30 and 34, which is due to having intercourse from a young age, and the other is between 80 and 84 which is due to age.”

Samantha says she got a lot of help from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

She said: “They put me in touch with ladies who were going through the exact same treatment I was having, and those who had already been through it.”

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Symptoms of cervical cancer:

• Abnormal bleeding

• Abnormal discharge

• Bleeding after intercourse

• Pain during intercourse

Risk factors:

• Intercourse from an early age

• Unprotected sex

• Age

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