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Scottish survivor champions cervical cancer awareness

Posted Aug 02 2012 9:37pm
August 2, 2012 - Posted by tamilb

Suzanne Ferdinand with her husband Kes and daughters Jordan (left) and Aaron.

Watching the Olympics has renewed my dream of exploring the UK. I went to London in my twenties but never had the chance to explore Scotland and Ireland. So I thought it would be timely to introduce Suzanne Fernando, a cervical cancer survivor and advocate who contacted me with her amazing story:

My instincts told me all was not well. There is cancer on my dad’s side of the family, and that’s what kept nagging away in my mind. But what choices did I have? Treatment at that time would have damaged my baby. I didn’t want to face that, so I just retreated into myself and kept my fears secret.

The minute I fell pregnant with Aaron, I felt very ill. I was in pain, I couldn’t eat, and nothing could convince me that this was a normal pregnancy. Every now and then I’d start bleeding and end up in hospital. But I think because of the position of the tumour, it simply didn’t show up.

When I was 8 months pregnant, I was back at hospital for the umpteenth time after bleeding. Nothing was showing on scans, so she examined internally. The pain was unbearable. Then she told me there was a growth the size of a man’s fist in my cervix.

I had a biopsy and had to stay in hospital for the results.  The next day I was rushed into theatre for an emergency c-section. The baby was perfect I was so relieved. But when I was in the recovery ward, my partner Kes noticed that my bed was suddenly saturated in blood.

The room was suddenly filled with nurses, but by then I was slipping in and out of consciousness. I vaguely remember nurses wrapping me up in silver foil. They were wrapping themselves around me too, trying to raise my body temp. I was rushed back into theatre, and, after about two to three hours, the doctor came out and told Kes he was sorry but he couldn’t stop the bleeding. As my life slipped away, doctors warned Kes to expect the worst, as he stood helpless with our baby in his arms.

They performed an emergency hysterectomy, and after some time in the hospital, I went home to start chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Sadly despite an intensive course of 20 treatments the tumour was still there.

During this time, Kes gave me intensive healing through crystals, which helped immensly. His sister, a reflexologist, healed my body through my feet and a friend from Cancer Care came along weekly and gave me some hands-on healing. I’m positive this all played a big part in my recovery.

After months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a last-chance, 24-hour bombardment of radiation directly onto the tumour, I was eventually in remission.

I had ignored the little voice in my head which told me I had cancer. Today though, I have two beautiful girls and a future. My daughter Aaron will celebrate her 12th birthday at Christmas, which will be an amazing experience for us all.

I’ve since had to cope with operations, skin grafts, scars, and reconstructive surgery, but with my family by my side, I made it and later married my partner Kes Fernando on the 10th anniversary of the day we met. In a romantic ceremony at the Blacksmiths cottage in Gretna Green, Scotland, accompanied by our two girls and friends, we tied the knot. It was the happiest day of my life, after all we have been through. Everyone was crying at the ceremony. It was a beautiful day and very romantic.

I’ve since took part in the “race for life” Cancer Research Charity race every year. My daughters now join me in the race every year and neither of us would miss it for the world. We all have a fantastic day knowing how much we could be helping to save someone’s life.

I’m writing my first book, and am continually raising funds throughout the year for various cancer charities. I officially became Scotland’s first Cancer Research UK Ambassador, a fantastic post I accepted a few years ago. I had the pleasure of being invited to the ‘International Women’s Day’ and met the Prime Minister to discuss new policies on cervical screening and raising cervical awareness.

I have managed to gain plenty of media attention for my local Cancer Care organisation, too. My main aim  is to introduce a Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in Scotland!

Visit Suzanne at  .

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