26-year-old told she has incurable cervical cancer and just months to live
A 26-YEAR-OLD cancer sufferer – who has been told she has just months to live – has today shared her story with the Grimsby Telegraph in the hope of saving others from the same fate.
Samantha Hickling, who married her fiancé at their home on March 1 after being told there was no more doctors could do for her, was first diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer in 2011.
The former finance manager for NAViGO mental health trust said: "If something positive can come out of all this, it will be that other women will read my story and go to their doctors and get any symptoms that they are worried about checked.
"And if they feel like their concerns aren't been listened to, then they should seek a second opinion straight away.
"If my cancer had been caught earlier, then I might have been able to have surgery to remove it and my outlook could have been very different."
Sam began experiencing unusual symptoms – such as tiredness, heavy periods, lower back pain, bleeding between periods and after intercourse, and contraceptive pills not working effectively – when she was in her late teens.
She added: "Those symptoms might seem trivial individually, but cumulatively they can be a sign of something very serious.
"However, just because you have symptoms like those, there is no need to be worried that it is necessarily cancer. What is important is that you get them checked out and get to the bottom of what is causing them.
"A smear test can save your life and I'd tell anybody who is putting off going for theirs to go and do it.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we will tell Samantha’s heartbreaking story in detail in a three-day series.
Tomorrow: How her mum and fiancé brought her wedding day forward after doctors told her she had just months to live
"Some of my friends have been checked since I was diagnosed and they have discovered that they have cell abnormalities, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have cancer.
"To be honest, there is so little information out there about how cervical cancer can affect young people that it wasn't even something that was in my head when I was seeing doctors."
Sam's mum, Wanda Fischer, added: "There really isn't enough information about how cervical cancer can affect young women in particular.
"Funding for promoting it has been cut because of the HPV vaccination programme, but that wouldn't have helped Sam as her cancer is one of the rarest forms.
"What can make a difference is getting diagnosed as early as possible. I just hope we can stop this from happening to somebody else's daughter."
Symptoms of cervical cancers
Early stage cervical cancers do not usually have symptoms and are frequently detected through cervical screening.
However, there are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer that should be investigated immediately:
Post menopausal bleeding.
Discomfort/pain during sex.
Lower back pain.
Regular cervical screening provides a high degree of protection against developing cervical cancer and is offered free on the NHS.
It is estimated that early detection and treatment through cervical screening can prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers from developing in the UK.
Not going for cervical screening is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer.
Visit www.jostrust.org.uk to find out more.
The HPV Vaccination
Human Papilomavirus (HPV) causes 99.7 per cent of all cervical cancer cases.
The UK’s national HPV immunisation programme was introduced into schools in 2008.
Vaccination for HPV can prevent infection from two of the highest risk types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
The HPV vaccine is free for all girls aged 12-18 but only girls aged 12-13 will be routinely offered the vaccine (school year 8).
Girls are normally offered the vaccine in school but it is also possible to obtain the vaccines via a local GP surgery.