Woman, 31, told devastating news that cervical cancer returned after dream holiday – Liverpool Echo

A woman received the devastating news that her cervical cancer had returned just weeks after returning home from a dream holiday with her twin.

Alice Eaton, 31, from Ellesmere Port, was first diagnosed with an advanced form of cervical cancer in December 2018 after waking up one night with an unusually heavy bleed.

Alice, who was 29 at the time, and working as a fashion merchandiser, was successfully treated with radiotherapy and hysterectomy surgery.

But she was told that her cancer had returned in October 2019, when doctors discovered a seven centimetre tumour growing into her bladder.

As a result, Alice underwent further treatment during the coronavirus lockdown this year including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and major surgery to remove most of the organs in her pelvis.

Alice said: I shaved my head and started practising with headscarves for when the inevitable happened I also became a master at drawing on my eyebrows from scratch.

It was a tough time but I drew on all the inner strength I had and knew I was determined to get through it.

Alice said she thought she'd be lucky to still be alive by Christmas but thankfully, the procedures have successfully reduced the cancer in her body and she is now recovering at home.

Describing her diagnosis as "a total rollercoaster", Alice said she is "so happy to have a chance at a future back."

She is sharing her story to raise awareness of Cancer Research UKs latest TV appeal, which features a direct plea for donations from leading scientist, Professor Richard Gilbertson.

The message in the film is clear to save lives tomorrow, the charity needs the publics support today.

Recalling the events that led to her diagnosis in December 2018, Alice said: One night I woke up with a massive bleed that wouldnt stop. I told my parents and we decided I should go straight to A&E the next morning.

I was sent for various tests and in my head I knew it wasnt going to be good news. But nothing really prepares you for the moment the doctors tells you its cancer when you hear those words you go into flight or fight mode.

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Alice, who was 29 years old at the time, immediately took time off from her job in fashion retail and was referred for hysterectomy surgery at the Liverpool Womens Hospital in February 2019.

This was followed by five weeks of internal radiotherapy treatment called brachytherapy, where radioactive material is placed inside the body to destroy the cancer cells.

She said: My life quickly became a whirlwind of medical appointments, procedures and hospital visits but I was determined to stay as positive as possible and focus on my treatment options. Despite what was happening, I still felt grateful that there was treatment on the table for me.

Thankfully, Alice responded well to the treatments and spent the summer celebrating with a dream holiday to Malaysia alongside her twin brother.

But unfortunately there was more bad news round the corner after Alice felt a pain in her upper leg in October 2019. Scans revealed a tumour growing into her bladder.

She said: I was shocked and very scared that the cancer had come back so quickly after treatment. It was a huge blow to me, especially as the tumour was so large this time.

Alice had a five month course of chemotherapy at Liverpools Clatterbridge Hospital to shrink the tumour, before undergoing pelvic surgery at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London in April this year a major surgical procedure to remove the bladder and most of the other organs in her pelvis.

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Alice said: It was tough and emotional having treatment during lockdown, especially when none of my friends or family were able to visit me at the hospital in London so I kept befriending all the northern nurses because their accents made me feel more at home.

I was relieved that I could have the surgery as it was my best chance at a complete cure but I needed the chemotherapy first to shrink the tumour as much as possible.

"It made me exhausted and I lost my hair, but it did a powerful job of reducing the growth down to two centimetres, which meant that surgery was possible.

Now that Im home recovering and looking ahead to Christmas, Ive decided to put my time to good use and have even started making jewellery to sell online, which is such a great way to stay focused.

Alice has experienced some painful side effects following her surgery, including nerve damage to her leg, but is determined to stay positive and enjoy the festive season with her mum Margaret, dad Paul and brother Tom.

She said: I have some uncomfortable side effects and also now use a urostomy bag, but its a small price to pay to be alive.

"Going from thinking Id be lucky to make it to Christmas to being told Ill potentially be cured is a total rollercoaster, but Im just so happy to have my chance at a future back.

My experience means I understand the importance of charities like Cancer Research UKs work all too clearly. Its thanks to research that Ive been given more precious time with my loved ones.

If I had been diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, the outcome might not have been the same for me and thats down to research. Its distressing to think that progress that could help more people like me survive cancer in the future is being delayed because of the effects of the pandemic.

Nobody wants to see scientists have to start hanging up their lab coats, so I hope that people across the North West will be inspired by the charitys determination to carry on beating cancer and give what they can. They could give hope to people like me and thats what Christmas is all about.

Cancer Research UKs work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has been at the heart of the progress that has seen cancer survival in the UK double in the last 40 years and cervical cancer death rates have fallen by around three-quarters since the 1970s.

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity currently funds around 50% of all publicly funded cancer research in the UK and is the only UK charity fighting more than 200 types of cancer.

With fundraising down and lockdowns across the UK continuing to affect its shops, Cancer Research UK is expecting a staggering 160 million drop in income this year, which is putting future breakthroughs at risk for people with cancer.

The charity has already had to make the difficult decision to cut 44 million in research, but this is likely to be just the beginning. Thats why Alice is urging people across the North West to help protect people with cancer from the heart-breaking fall-out of the pandemic.

The symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious, and it may not cause any at all until it's reached an advanced stage.

This is why it's very important to you attend all yourcervical screening appointments.

According to the NHS however, these are some of the symptoms women with cervical cancer may experience.

In most cases, abnormal vaginal bleeding is the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer.

This includes bleeding during or after sex, between your periods, after you have been through themenopause.

Visit your GP for advice if you experience any type of abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Other symptoms of cervical cancer may include pain and discomfort during sex, unusual or unpleasantvaginal discharge, and pain in your lower back or pelvis.

If the cancer spreads out of your cervix and into surrounding tissue and organs, it can trigger a range of other symptoms, including pain in your lower back or pelvis, severe pain in your side or back caused by your kidneys, constipation, peeing or pooing more often than normal, losing control of your bladder (urinary incontinence)orlosing control of your bowels (bowel incontinence), blood in your pee, swelling of one or both legs or severe vaginal bleeding.

Visit your GP if you have any concerns.

Anna Taylor, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: Were incredibly grateful to Alice for helping to underline the power of research in saving lives.

Cancer Research UK has played a role in developing 8 of the worlds top 10 cancer drugs and were working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.

The truth is, Covid-19 has slowed us down. But we will never stop. One in two people will get cancer in their lifetime*, which is why we are absolutely determined to continue to create better cancer treatments for tomorrow.

Every step our scientists take towards beating cancer relies on our supporters. So, whether they donate this festive season, fundraise or shop at our stores as they re-open with the help of people in the North West we believe that together we will still beat cancer.

Before the pandemic, Cancer Research UK was able to spend over 30 million in the North West last year on some of the UKs leading scientific and clinical research.

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Woman, 31, told devastating news that cervical cancer returned after dream holiday - Liverpool Echo

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