The finance manager, who lost her mother to ovarian cancer in her mid-20s and was later diagnosed with cervical cancer herself, said she knew she had to be “strong for the family” because she feared her children were “too young to get married”. mother”.

Crystal Manuel, of Chandler Ford, Hampshire, lost her mother Dolores to ovarian cancer at age 26 and was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 37 after experiencing unusual vaginal bleeding for about a year.

The mother-of-two, now 39, described heavier and more painful periods, lower back pain, “throbbing down her legs” and bleeding after sex, but despite several GP visits, “they didn’t choose to add anything” and her symptoms persisted.

After pushing for a test, about a year later Crystal was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the cervix, which she said was “terrifying” — especially since her mother died three months after being diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Now, as a cancer survivor, Crystal wants to emphasize the importance of “listening to your body” and checking “if something (is) not right.”

“(My mother) was 49 and she had the bleeding and doctors thought she had fibroids and she was going in for a hysterectomy and that’s when she went in for an evaluation before the surgery and that’s when they found out it wasn’t. Only fibroids – it was cancer.

“Unfortunately, it was too late; it was diagnosed in November and she died in February of the following year, so three months later.

“Too late.”

She added: “It was so scary (I was diagnosed) that they just ignored it for a while – ‘just go and get checked’.”

Cervical cancer is cancer of any part of the cervix – the opening between the vagina and uterus – and according to the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, it currently kills two women every day in England.

Symptoms include unusual vaginal bleeding, changes in vaginal discharge, pain during sex, or pain in your lower back.

(PA Real Life)

A cervical test, known as a smear test, checks the health of the cervix and is a test to help prevent cancer – and although the crystal result came back negative, the bleeding continued and she knew “something wasn’t right”.

Crystal has found it extremely difficult to get a GP appointment due to the coronavirus outbreak, but after being urged to see her, she got an appointment and was sent to Southampton General Hospital where she underwent a cervical biopsy.

Weeks later, she received the devastating news that she had cervical cancer, followed by an MRI and CT scan.

Because Crystal’s mother died three months after her diagnosis, Crystal said it was “really scary.”

“I was so scared … I lost my mom to ovarian cancer, so that made it even scarier,” she said.

“As a mother, you worry more; You worry and[you]worry because you don’t know how bad it is and you’re expecting the worst.

(PA Real Life)

But despite her fears, Crystal knows she has to be strong for her husband Clive, 39, a regional manager for British Gas, and her two children, Cameron, 15, and Chaya, 12; Because she didn’t want to worry. (her) family.”

She continued: “I’ve got two kids and a husband, so it was scary, but obviously, you have to be strong for the family.

“What’s going to happen is going to happen, but when you have kids, you only think about yourself. They’re too young not to have a mother.”

Crystal said she sometimes fears the worst, saying her diagnosis is “not a death sentence” and that she’s “trying to carry on as normal.”

She feels her positive attitude was fundamental in helping her get through her treatment, which included a radical hysterectomy – a surgical procedure to remove the uterus – five rounds of chemotherapy, five weeks of daily radiotherapy, then two weeks of brachytherapy.

Crystal said she recovered well after the gynecology treatment and did not lose her hair from the type of chemotherapy she underwent, but experienced some “terrible” side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, bone pain and loss of appetite, as well as going into menopause.

Although she did her best to stay positive during treatment, Krystal revealed that “certain days she was down.”

(PA Real Life)

“I can’t do this anymore,” she remembers crying in front of one of the nurses.

However, Krystal knew she had to “get through it,” and that’s when she began to process the effects of the diagnosis and treatment.

“Looking back now, I feel sorry for myself. I think, oh goodness, I’ve really been through a lot,” she said.

“But at the time, I think, because you have to get 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 and I was tired and sick – but looking back it’s like it never happened.

“That’s when you know you have to put up with this, you have no choice.”

Three months after Crystal’s treatment ended, she received the “all clear” and now has tests every few months.

(PA Real Life)

Although she felt “relieved” and happy to be in remission, Crystal said the past two years have been difficult to process despite her physical health improving, adding, “It all happened so fast…it’s surreal.”

You’re happy[being cancer free]obviously, but you don’t feel super happy because I think you’re still processing it in your mind – everything you’ve been through.

Crystal said her diagnosis and treatment “taught her a lot about life and what’s important in life,” adding, “The truth is, we’re not all here forever, so for me now, I live life differently.” I’m living life (to the fullest).”

Now Crystal wants to encourage other women to get a smear test and push them to get tested if they feel “something[is]not right.”

“Just listen to your body because, luckily, that’s what I’ve learned,” she said.

“I knew something wasn’t right… (but) I had to push her to see.

“Advocate for yourself, (and) if you’re having symptoms or anything in your body that doesn’t feel right, go get it checked out.

“(My mom’s cancer) was caught too late, and she said, ‘Any aches or pains, go and get tested,’ and I agree.”

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is running a #CanStopCervicalCancer campaign to make history of cervical cancer a thing of the past. You can find out more by visiting:

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