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Written on 26th January 2016 by Sita Soni

In July 2012, I started to experience pelvic pain and changes in bowel movements. I spoke to the oncology nurse and I was booked in for scans. I was petrified the cancer had come back. Deep down, I knew it had.

After the scans were done, I had a call from the radiotherapy department. They told me that I was being booked in to discuss my radiotherapy treatment. This answered any questions we had about the findings of the scans. The cancer was back.

I was advised that the cancer had travelled up into my lower back lymph nodes near the liver, and while it was unusual for the cancer to travel up, I appeared to be a special case. I had radiotherapy treatment five days a week for seven weeks and a full day of chemotherapy treatment once a week for four weeks. I also had brachytherapy, an internal radiotherapy over an 11 hour period.

After the initial shock of the recurrence, I tried to be as positive as I could, but after the treatment started, I felt exhausted and let down. The side effects of the chemotherapy and radiotherapy were difficult to cope with. They ranged from sickness, diarrhoea, tinnitus and overall exhaustion. I was also battling feelings of guilt for putting my children and husband through this. I did not want to be a burden on them but their support was invaluable. I also used the Macmillan website forum for support and advice, as well Jo’s Trust and the friends I made via them.

The treatment was successful, and although I have to live with the permanent side effects of the chemo-radiotherapy, I try to put on a brave face for my family now. I am thankful to have got through cancer twice with the support and love of my friends, family and support organisations.

I initially felt positive that I had another chance at life, but it wasn’t easy. My support network went back to their day to day routine and I felt, in some ways, forgotten about. I don’t mean that in a horrible way but I felt left behind, not knowing how to get back to my normal life. Everything was different. I felt anxious and upset not knowing how to live, specifically with work, my family, and friends. I didn’t know how to cope with day to day activities like shopping and housework. Everything was a blur for a few months. I had to try and get back into a routine, it was the best thing for everyone.

I know my journey with cancer will never be over. I’m reminded of it every day with the side effects of the treatment. The side effects are described in the next part of my journey and I hope these will encourage other women to attend their smears. I also want to reassure women that if you are scared, anxious, or just want someone to talk to, there are lots of support organisations like Jo’s Trust available to help.