A woman spoke up after experiencing debilitating back pain that she thought was from a new mattress that turned out to be cancer.
Gemma Brown was 26 years old when she and her partner bought a new bed with a memory foam mattress.
She started developing back pain, but she wiped it away as her body adjusted to the new mattress, reports Staffordshire Live.
It turned out to be much more serious, however, and just months later she was undergoing painful life-saving treatment for cervical cancer in the hospital.
Gemma at Burton, now 30, says she never expected it when the pain started after purchasing the new mattress in September 2017.
“Over the weeks I got back pain that didn’t get better, which I attributed to the new mattress and brushing it off every time,” she said.
“My mother asked if I was okay and I said I was fine, it’s the new bed, my body is still adapting to it.”
Then Gemma had to start “popping painkillers like they’re going out of style”.
Gemma was asked by the doctor if she had taken a smear.
She said, “I said no. I had a letter in the mail, but haven’t gotten around to sorting it. Like you – stuck on the fridge for months.”
(Image: Gemma Brown)
Her smear came back with abnormal results. After further procedures, Gemma received the shocking news that she had cancer.
She said, “I can’t even begin to explain this feeling today, this overwhelming shock that didn’t penetrate properly, that I was just told I have the big C.
“Emotions were flying all over the place and the doctor told me it was a rare form of cancer that they had never seen before and they referred me to the Royal Derby Hospital for more advanced doctors to treat me.”
Gemma had stage 2b “basal cell carcinoma” of the cervix. She was the first person in the hospital to have this form of cancer.
During her first few treatments, Gemma had the option to freeze her eggs, but she was told that this could interfere with her tumor, so she made the heartbreaking decision not to have children.
She then underwent five rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation therapy, and two brachytherapy treatments.
She said, “So now I was facing the toughest five weeks of my life. I wasn’t prepared for what was to come: pain, fatigue, loss of appetite.
“Finally after four weeks I had somehow made it through chemo and radio. Next came brachytherapy. Now I had never heard of brachytherapy and wish I had never Googled what was to come. So I had to lie firmly on my back for two days with chopsticks in me while direct radiation was blasted directly onto the tumor.
“To be honest, I can’t describe the pain at all. My parents and partner could hear my screams in the ward waiting room. Honestly the worst pain I’ve felt in my life. I still don’t know how I got through it.
“There were risks involved, which I was asked at the time. Would I rather take a higher dose that may affect my bladder and bowel in the future, or a lower dose that might not kill the tumor? So I opted for the kill decided.” damn it and suffer the consequences afterwards. “
While Gemma later received news that the treatment had worked and was cancer-free, three years later she is still suffering from the life-changing side effects.
She said, “I had menopause when I was 27 and now at 30 I just come out the other side. I can’t hold my bladder or bowel. I have hip pain where the tumor was. My joints are weak” I have no longer the energy as before.
“So many side effects that I now live with on a daily basis, but I am so happy to be alive and so grateful to the Royal Derby Hospital for their support and work.”
During her treatment, Gemma was fortunate to benefit from the Willow Foundation, a charity that offers special days to critically ill 16- to 40-year-olds.
Gemma spent one night at Callow Hall near Ashbourne and enjoyed it so much that she has now gone on a fundraiser to support the charity.
She will skydive 14,000 feet on October 16 to raise a minimum of £ 3,000.
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She said, “I wanted to do a skydive beforehand, but because I had gained so much weight from the steroids, I was told I was too heavy, but then I lost three pounds in 12 months.
“I just thought that before all this, I wasn’t a daring person, but since I got this treatment behind me, nothing scares me anymore.”
Gemma’s fundraising page is available here.
She also gave the following advice to women everywhere.
“To all of the fathers, mothers, partners and family and friends out there to remind all of your dear ladies in your life to take a smear. Don’t make one for me and leave it on the fridge and keep saying, I’ll sort it out when I can. “A smear takes five minutes and isn’t painful – it can save your life.”
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