About Me

Lots of you reading this already know me, but some don’t. And hopefully some of the information here will pop up on google and help other people going through the same thing.

I’m 36 and live in London. I was born in Ireland, and raised in Australia so I have family and friends around the world. Which is part of the reason for this blog so I can keep in touch.

Cancer:

I have stage 1B1 squamous cell cervical cancer. Diagnosed in December 2012. Here is the post that talks about it:

Stage 1B1

although I am sure things will have changed since this post by the time you read it. Diagnosis seems to take a while!

Update April 2013:

Thankfully I am now cancer free. I was lucky to get away with only 3 operations.

The first was the cone biopsy in December

Second was a lymphandectomy , also known as a bilateral lymph node dissection.

And finally the radical vaginal trachelectomy on Feb 25

I also did a round of IVF for egg collection. And we have 9 embryos waiting until I am ready to think about the next steps.

Lots more posts on recovery and other things that other people facing the same thing may be interested in, but these are the main factual pages.

Other than cancer:

I work in the city, in a pretty high pressure job, from which I am on long term leave at the moment. Cheers to everyone there, and thanks for the un-complaining support and letting me take the time to get well.

I also enjoy photography and travel, as well as watching sport. Everyone knows I love the Olympics, and I completely love my city of London. I’m also a big fan of renovation’s, and my last blog was the very boring (to most people) story of the renovation of my current flat.

http://clearlybuilt.wordpress.com/

Here are some of my more ‘arty’ photos – that I don’t bore people on facebook with:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/43705174@N06/

Here is an absolutely standard, everyday image of me – taken in 2011.

DSC_1892

Not at all a day when I had spent HOURS on hair and makeup… of course. 😉

Key Dates Summary

2012:

4th November: Regular Pap Smear – Result ‘Severe Dyskaryosis’
23 November: Colposcopy. Showed cancer cells
4 December: Cone Biopsy and Hysteroscopy.
7 December: Diagnosed with Cervical Cancer.
Hysteroscopy result was clear (ie, no cancer in the womb)
10 December: Holiday in Australia!
31 December: MRI and CAT Scans (Clear)

2013:
2 Jan: Started IVF for egg collection
11 Jan: Diagnosed as Stage 1b1, Squamous cell carcinoma. Moderately differentiated.
14 Jan: Referred to Prof John Shepherd for potential Trachalectomy.
16 Jan: EndoVaginal MRI
24 Jan: Egg Collection completed. Lister Hospital.
25 Jan: 9 embryos put in the freezer (yay!)
4 Feb: Lymphandectomy and EUA at Royal Marsden Chelsea

Results came back clear, so cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes. So I am approved for the trachelectomy

25 Feb: Radical vaginal trachalectomy. 6 weeks recovery
Results all clear with clear margins on the tumor.

29 April: Next follow up for Professor Shepherd.
June/July – another set of CAT and MRI scans.

July: MRI follow up – all clear.
July-September: IVF investigations. Cervical stenosis becoming a problem.
September: Operation to deal with stenosis
November: IVF cycle 2. Failed due to continuing problems with stenosis. 3 embryos created.
December: 2nd Stenosis operation. Stent put in place.
Approved for NHS IVF.

2014:
January: IVF cycle 3.
1 Feb 2014: Positive Pregnancy Test!!
28 March: In-pregnancy TAC placed.
4 June: TAC funneling seen on ultrasounds. Start of bedrest.

8 October: Expected Due Date

11 Responses to “About Me”

  1. jbarrass March 21, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    Hi Kath,
    My name is Jasmin and I’m a student journalist from Bournemouth University.
    I was wondering if I would be able to interview you for a magazine feature assignment I’m putting together. It is going to be looking at cervical cancer and the importance of smear testing. I would love to speak to you as you have a wonderful story and I really love that you’ve put together this blog so that other people suffering with the disease can read and relate.
    If it sounds like something you would be interested in please email me (jasminbarrass@gmail.com)
    Kind regards
    Jasmin Barrass

  2. Allison Harley April 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Hello Kath,

    I am doing something very similar to the lady above. I am a final year Broadcast Journalism student at Nottingham Trent University and I am currently making a radio documentary on cervical cancer to raise awareness around the subject.

    I am aware it is a very sensitive topic but I would really value your input.

    If you would like to share your story with me I can be contacted on allison.harley@aol.co.uk or allison.harley2010@my.ntu.ac.uk

    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Allison Harley

  3. Amanda July 1, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Hi Kath,
    I just wanted to say thankyou for your blog – thankyou for putting it out there for the wider world to see. I stumbled upon it while trying to find a surgeon in Australia who performs trachelectomy – and I guess the keywords from your holiday and experience led me to you!

    I’m 29, from South Australia, and want to have kids quite desperately. Fertility hasn’t been kind to us, and with 5 miscarriages and a failing ovarian reserve it seems a cruel joke to throw cancer concerns into the mix too!

    I had CIN 3 in 2005, treated at first with diathermy (unsuccessful) LLETZ (unclear margins) and then finally a cold knife cone in March 06; and passed through the three monthly and six monthly then finally annual checkups with no hint of continuing problems and never actual cancer (still CIN3 on the CKC).

    I thought it was all over, in 2010 got the “you may now resume normal 2 yearly smears” sign off, and put it all behind me, focussing, albeit unsuccessfully, on starting our family.

    My first routine smear in April last year came back with Atypical endocervical cells of undetermined significance.

    On my history, I was referred for a colp and punch biopsy. I still thought it wasn’t overly bad, after all, way back when the CIN3 was an issue, the initial smear result read CIN3 with the comment “Urgent Biopsy Recommended”. Atypical just didnt seem anywhere near as concerning as that.

    Went for the results if the colp and biopsy and was floored by the statement – Adenocarcinoma in situ.

    Dr Google told me the guidelines for women past their childbearing years – radical hysterectomy, but said nothing about women wishing to preserve fertility.

    I had another CKC in June last year, the pathology came back with AIS to the margins, but with not much cervix left, there weren’t alot of other options, and I wasn’t willing to face the H yet, without a staged invasive cancer.

    Chest clear, kidneys clear, my two intervening smears have been clear – and the Professor and I have an agreement that I will get pregnant, he will deliver via c-section and then perform a hysterectomy. The pregnant part hasn’t happened yet, and an accidental glance at the GP’s computer screen today shows the last result (from thursday) isn’t dandy, but he wouldn’t show me the report.

    Queue my frantic googling for a surgeon who performs trachelectomy while I have the long wait till Thursday for the official result.

    It was just really nice to read an honest account from someone in a similar position to myself – everything – including the title – a little bit of cancer – resounded with me.

    Because as far as cancers and survivability goes, lets face it. It’s the minor head cold – not full blown influenza A.

    But the ramifications, while not life and death have such a huge impact across all areas of life, relationships and even gender identity.

    And it also sucks because its not a hip or trendy cancer to have. There is also an occasional undercurrent of blame – like you have to have been promiscuous to get it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the HPV vaccine and minimising rates, but my HPV DNA has always been negative, and I still get questions about whether I got it from having sex.

    So thankyou again. I look forward to more chapters in your journey, and I’m so glad my search for a surgeon inadvertently led me here.

    Amanda

    • kathclear July 1, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for the reply – and I’m glad the blog helps. I can give you more info if you want – just email me direct on kmmr99@hotmail.com

      🙂

      Kath

  4. Beth September 6, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    Kath,

    Thank you for sharing your journey! My mom came across it while doing some research for me- I was diagnosed with 1B1 adenocarcinoma on July 30, 2013. It looks like I’ll be having a radical vaginal trachelectomy soon. I just started the shots for my egg retrieval tonight (hopefully we can get some embryos frozen). I just turned 29 this past June and I’d love to have a baby in the future. Cancer is horrible and it just sucks that it happened to us. I’ve spent hours trying to help others understand and it’s exhausting. Reading your posts made me feel so much better. It was a relief to hear the point of view from someone who’s been through it. You have helped me breathe again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Love and appreciation from Chicago,

    Beth

  5. parkyparks January 8, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    Thank you so much for your amazing blog. I had a radical trachelectomy after 1b1 in 2013 and am now exploring my fertility options and should be starting IVF in a few months.

    I was looking at writing a blog about my journey and found your incredible story. You have been through so much and have such a positive outlook and have given me hope that what seems almost impossible is actually very possible! I have an amazing team at Luton & Dunstable looking after me and actually feel quite lucky to have had such an unusual operation as everyone seems to be falling over themselves to get me pregnant! Although I do feel like a Guinea pig!

    Your blog has been really informative and reassuring so thank you for taking the time as you clearly put a lot of thought and effort into writing it.

    All the best for the future
    Hannah

  6. Emily-Mei Cross June 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Hi, I was passed your details over by Jo’s Trust. I’m part of the GynaeHealthUK team and we would love to get in touch with you regarding the campaign we are launching this year. I can give you more details about this and an event we are holding over email! Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best,

    Emily

  7. Vicki whitty August 3, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    I’m not sure if you still use this forum or not but I’d thought that I would reach out anyway.

    My name is Vicki, in 2009 I had a trachlectomy to treat cervical cancer at the Royal Marsden. We started trying for a family in 2010 and finally feel pregnant in 2012 via IUI. I had a vaginal stitch in place after the trachlectomy which we meant to hold but sadly we lost our daughter at 21 +6 weeks and the stitch started to give way at 18 weeks, despite the bed rest we could do nothing. In September 2013 I had an abdominal cerclage placed and conditioned with fertility treatment. Finally after round 3 IVF we feel pregnant, I’m now 16 weeks and 3 days! I’m absolutely terrified and really just trying to find anyone who has had a trachlectomy and abdominal stitch that I can talk to. Much of what I have found are those that have an incompetent cervix and abdominal stitch and are I the USA!

    • Kath August 3, 2015 at 11:23 am #

      Hi Vicki,

      So sorry to hear of your loss, it’s so heartbreaking. Huge congratulations on your current pregnancy and hope it continues smoothly.

      Did Prof Shepherd do your surgery? He also did a vaginal cerclage for me, but it broke at some stage during one of the minor surgeries I needed. In a way I was lucky as it prompted me to ask the question and I was then advised to get a TAC during my pregnancy. Thank god I did as even the TAC started to weaken at 22 weeks, so I’m sure I would have lost him earlier without it being in place.

      The US TAC site (Abbeyloopers) is good, but there is a UK offshoot which runs through facebook where you can get lots of local support. Search for UK TAC Support and there is a lovely little supportive group. We even meet up in real life from time to time, and it’s great to have people who understand the surgery and the experiences without having to explain it so much.

      Keep in touch (I’ll email you my address) and happy to help in any way I can.

      Cheers,
      Kath

      (My response seems to have disappeared, sorry if this appears twice)

  8. Anonymous November 21, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Thank you for sharing your experience. YOU wedding picture is beautiful! You are beautiful inside and out!

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