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My hysterectomy for cancer – Carol’s story

In March 2013 I went for my routine annual smear, I have been on yearly smears since the birth of my last daughter in 1997. Two weeks later I received a letter with an appointment to attend the colposcopy clinic which was scheduled for two weeks later (end of April).

I attended this and was told I had cin3 pre-cancer cells on my cervix. They tried to do the leep whilst I was there but were unable to do it as the pain was horrendous. So I was advised it needed to be done under a general. The end of May I had my leep done. I took a week off work to rest, then went back to work to await the results. On June 27th I went to my local hospital to see a gynaecologist. My appointment was the last one of the day. This is when he told me I had cervical cancer stage 1a, and we discussed me having a hysterectomy and to remove the Fallopian tubes and ovaries at the same time.

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I left stunned with appointments for an MRI scan and a CT scan for the beginning of July. Three days after the scans were done I returned back to get the results. MRI scan queried my stage and a couple of other things. My oncologist was on holiday so my hysterectomy was scheduled for the 20th August and I was first on the list.

My pre-op was done the week before and then on the 20/8/14 I arrived at the hospital for 7 am I had bloods done, changed into one of the sexy hospital gowns, spoke to a junior doctor and signed the consent form. I then, with my middle daughter, and a nurse walked to theatre to have my operation.

The next thing I remember is waking up on the recovery ward, connected to a PCA, drip and catheter, not too much pain which was great. Then I was moved on to the gynaecology ward into a single room. Two of my daughters visted I remember very little and they said I was spaced out on the morphine.

I slept quite well and the next morning I was told I could go home later that day if I could go for a wee and empty my bladder normally. I did all this and went home later that day to rest and recuperate.

I had an appointment for the 9th September to go back for the biopsy results, so back I went to see my oncologist. More bad news my stage was higher than they originally thought, I was 1a2 borderline 1b which meant I needed adjuvant treatment either radiotherapy/brachytherapy or more surgery to remove all the pelvic lymph nodes.

I opted for more so surgery so this would be arranged by the oncologist for a date and I went home to recuperate. My second operation was cancelled twice in the 15 weeks I waited to have it done. Finally on the 3rd December 2014 I had my bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy again I was first on the list.

This time when I woke I was in awful pain even with the PCA. I was given extra pain relief during the night and the next day I was helped out of bed the pain was indescribable. After the health care support worker helped me to wash and dress I was then told I was going home.

I wanted to go home as I felt I would heal better at home. What I did forget was I live in a second floor flat with no lift. On arriving home with a bag full of pain medication and nerve tablets, plus blood thinners it took me 15 minutes to climb the stairs just to get into my own front door. I spent the next few months recuperating. On the 19th December my Macmillan nurse rang me to tell me that my lymph nodes were negative for cancer cells if I could have danced around my flat I would have done.

Now 5 months later I have lots of side effects from the last operation, lymphodema, nerve damage and chronic post op pain,. I take gabapentin, co-codamol; I am on fentanyal patches and i also have just been prescribed Tramadol for break through pain, Movacol because my bowel is lazy due to adhesion’s on my bowel, and I have a herniated disc L4/5, plus degenerative disc disease. But I am still alive and here. My last check in February 2015, a vault smear and MRI shows I am in remission for cancer at this time.

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in my own words book coverNow available on our online store and all other online book store’s. In My Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy is full of many other real-life stories from women the world over.

Other people’s stories help women feel less isolated. They show that they aren’t going mad, missing the point or stupid.

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Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational coach and founder of the Hysterectomy Association. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in the adoption and engagement of digital technologies. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

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