“My Voice” by Alexandra Robertson

Alexandra Robertson - 'Survivor'

Last year in February after three years of being ill, I began to feel extremely tired, and just feeling run down, so I sought medical advice. The Doctor decided to take a blood test, but when the results came back, they indicated that I was low on oestrogen. Due to my age 49 at the time, the Doctor thought I was menopausal and decided to prescribe H.R.T. to alleviate the symptoms of feeling lethargic all the time. Prior to taking H.R.T. the Doctor took a smear test and checked my blood pressure and the results of both tests were negative, so I began taking my H.R.T.

In late April of last year Molly my dog began to act very strange in that she became very agitated and was pawing and sniffing around my lower abdomen. I have another three dogs (molly’s offspring) and they just completely ignored me. This behaviour of Molly was constant and I did not get any peace even when I was sitting on the settee watching television.  Molly normal nature is that she is aloof and she only wants petted on her terms. When I had a show of blood combined with Molly’s behaviour, my woman’s intuition was telling me something was wrong, so I went to see my Doctor. I was given a choice whether to wait and see if I had any more bleeding or have a further investigation, I decided on the second option.

When I saw the Consultant at the gynaecology clinic it was decided I would go for an internal ultra-sound scan, but the results came back negative.  Molly was still acting very strangely and I was not convinced by the scan results, the Consultant sensing my unease decided to do one more test called a histology test which is done in hospital. When I went back to the clinic for the results, I knew it was bad news as the nurse asked me ‘if I was on my own’? The cancer nurse came in with the Consultant and I was given the diagnosis that I had eudiometrical cancer and that I would need a hysterectomy. The Consultant also made the decision to remove my ovaries to prevent me getting breast cancer later on.  As there was a cancellation I was going to have my operation done within a week and I had my pre-assessment operation tests done on the same day as I my diagnosis.  The enormity of it all did not hit me until a few days later, when I realised that I was a cancer patient.

After my hysterectomy the Consultant came to see me and informed me that the operation had been successful and that the cancer had now gone, but I had to wait for the pathological results.  Whilst in hospital, my wound became infected and had to go through another operation, after which I was put into an isolation ward to recuperate for five weeks. Whilst I was in hospital I got my pathological results and the Consultant informed me that my cancer was stage1B and as the hysterectomy was successful I would need no further treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. As the Consultant thought that my cancer was caused by H.R.T. I am not allowed to take any prescribed or herbal supplements as they contain oestrogen, which could have an adverse effect for me.

After I was discharged from hospital my wound was still not clear from infection, plus I was still recovering from major surgery. During my recuperation I had time to think and what I was actually doing with my life. I came to the conclusion that I had been drifting along in that I was doing volunteer work with certain groups and to be honest deep down I knew they were the wrong groups for me.  It was strange I did not have the courage to face this face until I was faced with a life threatening illness. I began to think of all the people that I knew and some of them have not contacted me since my diagnosis, so I came to a decision that I would erase all those people I have no contact with by deleting Email addresses and telephone numbers. Doing this was like a Spiritual cleansing.

Eight months after my operation I began to feel that I needed a purpose in life and I now began to look at my cancer as a blessing in disguise, that when the Surgeon removed my cancer from my body physically, I felt that I had been cleanse mentally and spiritually. Sometimes a profound realisation comes into my mind just how Bless I had been to have Molly who saved my life by detecting my cancer in the early stages. Molly has now reverted back to her normal behaviour.

I was now done of drifting aimlessly doing volunteer work with groups I had nothing really in common with, I was now becoming more focused and wanted a purpose in life, and that is when I decided to become a Macmillan fundraiser and campaigner for cancer awareness. I wrote articles to local newspapers informing them about Molly but at the same time informing the readers about events and raising the issue of cancer awareness. I have been invited to talk on the local radio stations about Molly but also about fund raising events and cancer awareness. A clairvoyant and a ghost hunt charity events are being organised and hopefully they will take place within the next few months.  The most recent thing I have done was that I created my own group called Macmillan Red Rose whose aims is to raise funds and campaign for cancer awareness. The biggest event I have organised to date is the Macmillan Biggest Coffee Morning on Preston Flag Market on the 25th September 2009.

Looking back over the last few months I cannot believe what I have achieved and being a cancer survivor has gave me a complete new outlook on life.  I know that there is much work needs to be done in cancer campaign awareness as unfortunately there is still a stigma attached to the word cancer in sectors of society. This stigma needs to be addressed in that cancer is not a contagious disease and you will not catch it by being in close contact with a cancer sufferer.  It is also true that some members of society have the belief that because cancer does not run in their family, they are genetically have an immunity against the disease, the truth is anyone can be diagnosed with cancer regardless of class, denomination, creed, age or sex.

As a cancer survivor who has had a hysterectomy, I have been asked if I felt less of a woman, the answer is no, as the state of being a woman is all in the mind, and hysterectomies have saved lives of many women and ended their years of suffering due to female related problems. Do not think of as hysterectomy being the end of being a woman: embrace your hysterectomy as the new beginning of your womanhood.

Much publicity has been written about Jade Goody and although Jade has now gone, Jade was the instigator of the young women going for smear tests. It is because of Jade and being a cancer survivor I am on a mission to have the age of the smear test lower and make women more aware of the early symptoms of uterine cancer for if this cancer is caught in the early stages there is a higher percentage of the cancer going into remission/cured.  It is also important to remember that for every one cancer case that is similar to Jade there are another ten cancer cases that have survived cancer and have been cured.

This is why I think cancer survival stories are so important and beneficial to cancer patients who have just been diagnosed is to give them a more balanced report about cancer that it is not all doom and gloom, but there is life and hope at the end of the tunnel.