The START of a relationship is an exciting time for any new couple.
There are plenty of milestones including making it official, moving in together and buying a home together – but for Gemma Brown, one entry helped reveal a deadly illness.
Gemma was 26 years old when she and new partner Michael bought their first double bed together.
Gemma, from Derby, said they are in the honeymoon phase of their relationship and it’s been an exciting time.
The travel agent soon started having back pain, but just brushed it off because she thought she was adjusting to her new mattress.
But after being nagged by her mother Julie, Gemma saw her GP – and was later diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Gemma, now 30, is making a full recovery but went through menopause at the age of 27 and was never able to have children.
She suffered lasting and devastating damage from her ordeal, but she and her partner Michael have grown closer and are now planning to get married.
Gemma said: “Michael and I are in the honeymoon phase of our relationship and buying a bed together was our first big purchase.
“I was delighted when it arrived but within a few days something went wrong. I only blame it on the new bed because it’s a memory foam mattress.
“My mother finally insisted I saw the doctor and I was shocked when it was cancer.
“It was heartbreaking to learn that I would never have children, but my illness brought Michael and me closer together and now we plan to get married.”
Gemma added that she now wants to let other women know not to skip smear appointments.
“Don’t stick a magnet on the fridge like I did,” she adds.
Michael and Gemma met in June 2016 on a dating site and the following year they decided to buy their first double bed together in preparation for moving into their first home.
She said: “We had a memory foam mattress that I had never tried before and so when my back pain started, I blamed the mattress.
“But my pain got worse and worse, and I had to take a lot of painkillers. My mother convinced me to see a GP and I was sent for tests.
“I remember I received a letter for a dirt test that I didn’t follow up because I was so busy at work.”
In September 2017, Gemma was diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer.
EARLY SIGNAL OF CANCER CANCER YOU NEED TO KNOW
Signs may include:
1. Irregular bleeding (during or after sex, between periods and even after menopause)
The most common and earliest sign of cervical cancer tends to be irregular bleeding.
It occurs when cancer cells grow on the tissue below the cervix.
It’s a particularly alarming sign in postmenopausal women who no longer menstruate. There is no age limit for developing cervical cancer.
2. Abnormal vaginal discharge
Everyone’s discharge is different, so it’s a case of knowing what’s normal for you.
If you find that the color, smell, and consistency have changed, that’s something you really need to check.
When cancer lacks oxygen, it can cause an infection that results in a discharge with a strange odor.
3. Discomfort or pain during sex
Pain during sex can be a sign of a number of different problems, but one of them is cervical cancer.
Because the disease often has no symptoms, pain during intercourse is one of the important signs. It could be a sign that the cancer is spreading to surrounding tissues.
4. Lower back pain
It could be because you strained something in the gym, or it could be a warning sign that something is wrong with your reproductive organs.
Persistent pain – just one jerk – in the lower back, pelvis, or appendix could be a symptom of cervical cancer.
5. Unintentional weight loss
While effortless weight loss may seem like the answer to many of our prayers, it’s never a good sign if it happens for seemingly no reason.
Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss tend to be signs that the body isn’t working properly – it’s trying to conserve energy. If you notice that you’re not eating and drinking as you should, see your doctor.
As the disease progresses, it can also lead to:
- increased need to urinate
- blood in urine
- bleeding from the bottom
- lower extremity swelling
She said: “I was shot; I am a young woman, in a new relationship. I was told I couldn’t have children, which broke my heart, and I worried how Michael would feel.
“I told him to leave me; I felt guilty for not being able to have a baby for him. I couldn’t even have sex for a long time.
“He was unbelievable, he stood by my side and refused to leave.”
Gemma has undergone 5 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of radiation and 2 rounds of brachytherapy.
She said: “Chemotherapy was horrible. My parents and partner could hear me screaming in the hospital waiting room.”
The treatment was successful, but Gemma faced a series of side effects.
She said: “I went through menopause at 27 and at 30, now I’m just about to go out on the other side. I can’t hold my bladder or bowels. I feel very sore and weak.
“But I’m so lucky to be alive and so grateful to the Royal Derby Hospital for supporting them and the work they do.”
In October, Gemma participated in a 14,000ft skydive to raise funds for charities that supported her during her illness.
Michael proposed on Valentine’s Day 2018 during a vacation in Fuerteventura and they plan to get married this year.
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8218266/blamed-back-pain-uncomfy-bed-silent-killer/ I blamed my back pain on my uncomfortable bed but it turned out to be a silent killer