Louise Ross was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March at the age of just 34 and is now recovering after an operation.
The disease was picked up during a routine smear and tests and biopsies found it was in the early stages – and after undergoing a radical hysterectomy just seven weeks ago, the mum-of-two has been declared ‘cancer free’.
She now wants to use her experience to raise awareness and prompt other women to get checked. Louise, a former soldier turned trainee fitness coach and leisure attendant, said: “I had no symptoms and no idea.
“I was called for a regular smear test last July and it came back abnormal, so I had to wait six months and return again. I had an abnormal result ten years ago and then it had come back clear after that, so I was not massively worried.”
She returned to the GP in January for the follow up test, but got another abnormal result. She said: “When I got abnormal the second time round, at that point alarm bells started to ring. “Deep down I knew something was going on, but I still had no symptoms.”
A colposcopy followed a few weeks later at Dumfries Infirmary, with a microscope inserted to look at her cervix. Louise said: “The colposcopy was fine, not painful. The doctor found where the abnormal cells were and removed them on that day and they were sent off. On March 23 I found out I had cancer – it was large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the cervix, stage one A, which means it’s localised and has not spread.”
From that point, events accelerated and she found herself undergoing a series of scans in Dumfries and Edinburgh. She said: “I had researched the treatments and seen for the most part that hysterectomy was the most preventative, so I had prepared myself for that. Because of the aggressive nature of cancer, they wanted to take aggressive action.”
The operation was carried out in Edinburgh in May and she was home two days later. “It was very full on from diagnosis,” said Louise. “The gynaecological team were amazing, I could call any time; the GP surgery were great too. The support was there from the start and it made it easier to deal with.”
Since her diagnosis, she has been sharing the journey on social media and said: “I know for a fact that sharing my story has made a difference with people who had never been before and put off it doing it.
“I feel positive about that, at least some positivity has come out of my situation.”
She has also become a supporter of the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and is hoping to hold some awareness and fundraising events next year, when she’s back to full fitness and has put the experience behind her. “There’s not enough in this area with regards awareness, so that will be the positive we can get out of this,” she said. And after having to postpone a planned charity climb of Ben Nevis this year, she’s planning it for 2019 when it will be in aid of Jo’s Trust and Cancer Research UK.
Now trying to get back to normal after a rollercoaster few months, Louise is looking to the future and said: “With regards cancer, it should not define you. It should put things in perspective and make you do something with your life. I want to be able to say I had it, but it made me aware of life and what you can do with it and I want to make things better for other people.”