A finance manager who lost her mother to uterine cancer in her mid-20s and was later diagnosed with cervical cancer said she knew she had to be “strong for the family” because she feared her children would be “too young not to have a child.” mother”.
Crystal Manuel, who lives in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, lost her mother, Dolores, to uterine cancer when she was 26, and was diagnosed with cervical cancer at 37 after experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding for about a year.
The mother-of-two, now 39, explained that she was experiencing heavier and more painful periods, lower back pain, “throbbing pain in (her) legs” and bleeding after sex, but despite several GP visits, “didn’t choose anything” and their symptoms continued.
After pushing for a diagnosis, about a year later, Crystal was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma cervical cancer, which she said was “very scary,” especially since her mother had died three months after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. .
Now, as a cancer survivor, Crystal wants to stress the importance of “(listening) to your body” and getting checked if “something is (not) right.”
“(My mother) was 49 and she experienced the bleeding and the doctors just thought she had fibroids so she was going to have a hysterectomy and when she went in for her pre-op evaluation that’s when they realized it wasn’t. just fibroids, it was cancer.
“Unfortunately, it was late; he was diagnosed in November and he passed away in February of the following year, so three months later.
“It was just caught too late.”
He added: “It was very scary (when I was diagnosed) because, with her, it was only three months and she was gone, and she would always tell us, ‘If you feel any pain or pain,’ because she probably ignored it for quite some time as well: ‘You just Go and get yourself checked.'”
Cervical cancer is cancer found anywhere in the cervix (the opening between the vagina and uterus) and, according to the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, currently kills two women in the UK every day. .
Symptoms include unusual vaginal bleeding, changes in vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, or lower back pain.
A cervical screening test, known as a smear test, checks the health of the cervix and is a test to help prevent cancer, and although Crystal’s results were negative, the bleeding persisted and she knew “something was not right.” “.
Crystal said it was extremely difficult to schedule a GP appointment due to the coronavirus pandemic, but after pushing for care, she got an appointment and was referred to Southampton General Hospital where she underwent a neck biopsy. uterine.
Weeks later, she received the devastating news that she had cervical cancer and then underwent an MRI and CT scan.
Since Crystal’s mother had died three months after her diagnosis, Crystal said it was “really scary.”
“I was very scared… I lost my mother to uterine cancer, so it was scarier,” she said.
“You are more concerned as a mother; you are anxious and (you) stress because you don’t know how bad it is and you are expecting the worst.”
Yet despite Crystal’s fears, she knew she had to be strong for her husband, Clive, 39, a regional manager for British Gas, and their two sons, Camron, 15, and Chaia, 12, already that he didn’t want to “worry”. (his family of her “of her.
She continued: “I have two children and a husband, so it was very scary, but obviously, you have to be strong for family.
“Whatever happens, it’s going to happen, but when you have kids, you think, they’re too young not to have a mother.”
Crystal explained that while she sometimes feared the worst, her diagnosis was “not a death sentence” and she “tried to carry on as normal.”
She feels her positive mindset was instrumental in getting her through her treatment, which included a radical hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the uterus, five rounds of chemotherapy, five weeks of daily radiation therapy, followed by two weeks of brachytherapy.
Crystal said she recovered well after her hysterectomy and did not lose her hair due to the type of chemotherapy she received, but did experience some “horrible” side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, bone pain and loss of appetite. as well as entering menopause.
While she did her best to stay positive during treatment, Crystal explained that she “felt down on some days.”
She even remembers crying in front of one of the nurses, saying, “I can’t take it anymore.”
However, Crystal knew she had to “get through it,” and has only now begun to process the impact of her diagnosis and treatment.
“When I look back now, I actually feel sorry for myself; I think, oh my gosh, I actually went through a lot,” he said.
“But at that point, I think, because you just have to go through it, it’s like you’re in survival mode.
“You’re in pain and there’s a lot going on: my blood pressure dropped, I passed out and I got sick, but when I look back, it’s like it never happened.
“At that point, you know you have to put up with it, you have no other choice.”
Three months after Crystal’s treatment ended, she was cleared and now has checkups every few months.
While she felt a sense of “relief” and happiness to be in remission, and her physical health has improved since then, Crystal explained that the last two years have been difficult to process, adding: “It all happened so fast…it’s surreal.
“You’re happy (that you don’t have cancer), obviously, but you’re not super happy because I think you’re still mentally processing everything that you’ve been through.”
Crystal explained that her diagnosis and treatment have “taught her a lot about life and what’s important in life,” adding: “Actually, we’re not all here forever, so for me now, I’m living the life of different way; I’m living life (to the fullest).”
Now Crystal wants to encourage other women to get their smear tests and push for a diagnosis if they feel “something is (not) right”.
“Just listen to your body because lucky for me that’s how I detected it,” he said.
“I knew something wasn’t right… (but) I had to push to get seen.
“Advocate for yourself, (and) if you have any symptoms, or something that you feel is not right, with something in your body, go and get it checked out.
“(My mother’s cancer) was caught too late, and she said, ‘Any pain or discomfort, just go and get checked,’ and I agree.”
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is launching its biggest campaign ever: #WeCan End Cervical Cancer, to work for a day when cervical cancer is a thing of the past. You can find out more by visiting: www.jostrust.org.uk/ccpw
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