Suzanne Fernando - My Way!
I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer when I was pregnant with my second child - and almost died before I got a chance to hold my newborn baby girl.
With my first daughter, Jordan, whom was diagnosed with Asberger's Syndrome when she was 6, I`d sailed through a trouble free pregnancy! However, the minute I fell pregnant with Aaron I felt very ill. My instincts had told me all was not well. There`s Cancer in my Dad's side of the family and that`s what kept nagging away in my mind!
Treatment at that time would`ve damaged my baby and I didn't want to face that so, to be honest, I retreated into myself and kept my fears secret.
I was sick all the time and in pain. I couldn't eat and nothing could convince me that this was a "normal" pregnancy.
When I was expecting Jordan, my partner and I backpacked to India just in time before settling down with children.
I`d felt so well throughout that pregnancy (mind you I was always relatively fit and healthy, having spent almost 7 years as a Military Policewoman in Her Majesty's Services!)
l know no two pregnancies are the same and remember my partner and I agreeing that, because I felt so ill second time around, there`d be no more babies for us! I was dragging myself through the pregnancy and couldn't wait for it to be over.
Every now and then I'd start bleeding and end up in hospital (but due to the position of the tumour, it simply didn't show up!)
8 months pregnant, I was back at hospital (for the umpteenth time) after bleeding. I've got a rare blood group ('O' negative) and whenever I would bleed, I'd have to have injections to stop the baby's blood being poisoned.
This time the doctor said she was concerned because I'd been in so often and decided to examine me further.
Nothing showed up on scans so she examined internally. The pain was unbearable. Then she told me there was a tumour the size of a tennis ball in my cervix, blocking little Aaron's arrival.
I had a biopsy and had to stay in hospital for the results and that night was awful. I lay awake wondering what was going to happen to us.
Next day they told me I had Cancer, and because of the tumour, I wouldn't be able to deliver my baby normally. I was in shock.
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 noticed I was haemorraging...
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 2 - 3 hours, the doctor came out and told my partner he was sorry, but he couldn't stop the bleeding and asked my partner to sign a form permitting them to give me a hysterectomy. My life was slipping away, doctors warned my partner to expect the worst and as he stood helpless with our baby in his arms - what choice did he have but to give his consent!
He was left praying for a miracle - and fortunately for us, those prayers were answered.
When I eventually did go home I was really worried about all the time I been apart from my girls, I hadn't had a proper chance to bond with my newborn.
A bed was made up for me in the livingroom and I began my chemotherapy and radiation treatment the following week (just after New Year!)
Sadly, despite an intensive course of 20 treatments, the tumour was still there.
I couldn't believe it, after all that... the cancer was still there.
During this time, my partner gave me intensive Healing through Crystals (Kes is a fully qualified Holistic Crystal healer) His Sister Al would also visit me (she`s a qualified Reflexologist) and would heal my body through healing to my feet, and a friend from Cancer Care came along weekly to give me some hands on healing (all of which played a big part in my recovery, of that I`m positive of!)
I was then offered a 24 hour intensive course, where I was bombard with continuous radiation using long metal rods directly onto the tumour.
It was ghastly. I couldn't move for 24 hours but in the end, the tumour had shrunk.
After months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a last chance 24 hour bombardment of radiation directly onto the tumour, I was eventually in remission. I spent a while in hospital while my partner looked after the girls and I think it was the nurses and doctors who kept me sane.
The tumour shrank, I was still ill, but very very happy.
However along with the tumour, other organs had also shrunk, and I then needed more surgeries to repair the damage.
But, despite cancer, I have two beautiful girls... and a future. Alot has happened since Blairgowrie in June `95, when I`d just left the military police to start work as a private investigator - and met my Portugese beau - Kes!
My daughter Aaron celebrated her 12th birthday at Christmas (2012) - an amazing experience for us all.
I've since had to cope with more operations, skin grafts, scars, reconstructive surgery, and I`m continuing ongoing surgeries (with my family by my side)
And... well, I made it, and 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 and were overcome with emotion (and were not the only ones!)
It was the happiest day of my life. Everyone was crying at the ceremony and after all we`ve been through, it was a very emotional service, a beautiful day... and very romantic.
We all went on to enjoy a wedding celebration in Annan, in cottages overlooking the Solway Firth, with the memories of darker days well behind us! We all enjoyed the day (especially our girls Jordan and Aaron) and it will be a day we`ll never forget.
I now raise awareness, fundraise, make presentations at various clubs/organisations and more recently, I`ve started a cervical cancer support group here in Ayrshire.
My daughters often join me at various events. They are as dedicated and passionate about cervical cancer as I am and have a fantastic time at various events knowing how much we could be helping to save someone's life.
I've also built my own business working with children and currently writing my first book. I work alongside Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust & The Eve Appeal and I`m continually raising funds and awareness throughout the year.
I was Scotland's first Cancer Research UK Ambassador and now a qualified Cervical Cancer Support Group Leader.
I`ve had the pleasure of being invited by my local MP Katy Clark to the 'International Women's Day' and met the Prime Minister at No.10 to discuss new policies on Cervical Screening and raising cervical awareness.
I try as often as possible to gain media attention for my local Cancer Care organisations too and my main aim now is to introduce my new Cervical Cancer Support Group in Ayrshire, Scotland!
During my treatment, I found it difficult to find any charity or organisation solely dedicated to supporting women and gynaecological cancers.
We now have The Eve Appeal - which I believe is a huge lifeline to all women as they raise funds for world-class research - to save women's lives!