Charlotte was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in October 2020 and underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy and internal radiotherapy despite her smear test coming back clear
Image: STOKE SENTINEL)
A nurse has told how she was struck down with cervical cancer – despite her smear test coming back clear.
Charlotte Woodward, 32, received the devastating diagnosis after later going to her GP with abnormal bleeding, Stoke Live reports.
Charlotte, known as Charl, was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in October 2020 and underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy and internal radiotherapy.
But five weeks after her treatment had finished she was experiencing pain in her hip and further scans found a large tumour in her hip.
The cancer had progressed to stage four and is now terminal.
Charl, who lives in Fenton, said: “I had my smear test and it came back as normal, it was clear. It was therefore quite lucky that I had picked up on the abnormal bleeding because I knew I needed to go and get it checked out with the GP.
“My friends have said that if it had been them and their smear had come back normal they would just have put it down to something else. It’s not something you’d typically think of.
“I was shocked because I wasn’t expecting it because my smear was normal. They told me on the same day that it would leave me infertile and I wouldn’t be able to have any children. I felt like that was the biggest blow for me.
“I was 30 at the time so it wasn’t something I was thinking about but then suddenly it was taken away from you. It’s a huge shock to be told at the same time as having cancer that you can never have children.”
As well as being a nurse, Charl was a self-employed businesswoman running an aesthetics brand from 81 Rose Garden, in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
But her diagnosis made it difficult for her to work as her mobility decreased and she went from being able to walk one day to using crutches the next.
She added: “My mobility had decreased so much. I went from walking normally to walking with a crutch and then two crutches.
“I was in a wheelchair. They told me I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life with the surgery that I needed because they needed to replace the hip but also cut away quite a lot of the muscles around that area.
“I asked for a second opinion and went to a specialist in Birmingham. I had surgery with them and it’s left me being able to be mobilised.
“I am still on crutches but with the intense physiotherapy I will have in the new year, they are hoping they will get me back to some form of mobility again which is a lot better than being in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
“I miss work, it’s horrendous. I’ve always been a nurse and I don’t know any different. I went from school, to college, to uni and then straight into working. I’ve never not been a nurse and never not worked.”
Charl has taken to Instagram to raise awareness of her condition and has helped fellow cervical cancer sufferer Leah Herrington. Their stories inspired a fund-raising triathlon earlier this month.
She said: “I’ve been doing a lot of health promotion awareness on my Instagram which has helped because I feel like it has kept my mind busy. Having that platform helps massively.
“Everybody has been so kind and there have been so many people who have reached out to me and said they didn’t know the signs and symptoms and it’s helped them. I had a few people say that they had never been for a smear before but now they have got one.
“I’ve been speaking to Leah quite a lot as well because she reached out to me when she was diagnosed.
“The generosity and kindness of people has been phenomenal. It restores your faith in humanity with everything going on in the world.
“I’m still quite positive in my mindset and I am willing to fight and keep going. Knowing there are so many people supporting me helps with that.
“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone. I don’t think there are many words to say how thankful I am to them. The difference it makes is unbelievable.
“The message I’d like to get across is for people to know their own bodies and if they feel there is something not right then to fight for it. Nobody knows your body better than you so if you feel something is wrong, fight for it.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.