A teenager’s crippling period pain was actually cervical cancer
A brave teenager whose severe stomach cramps were dismissed as period pain had an orange-sized tumour removed from her cervix.
Amy Heatman, from Liverpool, spent three weeks going back and forth from her doctors after her period pain and heavy bleeding became unbearable.
But because she was 17 years old, her symptoms were ignored until her mum Jillian, 49, demanded a referral.
An ultrasound detected a large mass on her cervix – she was quickly diagnosed with cervical cancer and needed a full hysterectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Now, four years on, Amy is sharing her story to raise awareness for cervical cancer in those younger than 25.
She was supported throughout her ordeal by Teenage Cancer Trust and has raised £1,100 for the charity so far.
Amy, a nursery nurse, said: “I was heartbroken when I was told I’d never be able to have children, I’d always wanted my own family.
“In a way, that was harder to deal with than being told I had cervical cancer, at 17 years old, I never knew how serious it was.
“I’m so thankful to the surgeons and nurses who saved my life, I have my down days now but I know how lucky I am to have survived.
“My period pain had become so horrific in July 2011 that I struggled to get on with my day to day life.
“I was bleeding so heavy during the night that I needed to sleep with a towel between my legs.
“It was three weeks of hell before my diagnosis but since my operation and treatment finished, I have tried my best to move on with my life.
“I absolutely love children and even though I won’t experience pregnancy or have my own biological child, I hope to someday adopt.
“I’m currently a nursery nurse and it’s so lovely working with them every day.”
After Amy’s ultrasound, she began experiencing excruciating pain while in hospital and was rushed down for an emergency operation.
She added: “I was desperate for the toilet but I couldn’t go, it was agony and my mum called for all the nurses.
“I was wheeled down for theatre and surgeons removed an orange-sized tumour from my cervix.
“It was a huge shock and soon after I was told it was cancerous and I needed a full hysterectomy the following day.
“It was a huge operation to have as a teenager but thankfully I was supported by Teenage Cancer Trust.
“I had chemotherapy on one of their wards and it made me feel so much more at home, it wasn’t as daunting as I’d first thought.
“Since I have been given the all clear from cancer I have done my best to raise money and support the charity that helps thousands of people across the country.
“I never imagined I would be facing cancer as a teenager but I’m proud that I made it through treatment.”
Due to undergoing such gruelling treatment and having a full hysterectomy, Amy started early menopause but she hasn’t let it put her down.
She said: “I have such an amazing family and supportive friends that when I do get down about my journey that they’re there to pick me back up.
“I hope anyone reading my story that is suffering from usual symptoms pushes for a smear test or if they’re under 25 that they ask to be referred, it saved my life.”
Susie Rice, Head of Education and Awareness Programmes at Teenage Cancer Trust, who have supported Amy throughout, said: “Amy has been really brave and open about telling her story, and she’s passionate about raising awareness of cancer in young people.
“This is incredibly important because if you find out you have cancer sooner, it can help with treatment and significantly increase chances of survival.
“That’s why Teenage Cancer Trust gives presentations in schools which educate and empower young people to know the signs of cancer and to have the confidence to seek help and be persistent.
“We’re also working with our NHS and Primary Care partners to improve awareness and diagnosis of cancer in young people.”
Do you, or someone you know, have a similar story to tell? Get in touch today to earn £££ and raise awareness.