Woman misdiagnosed by doctors four times before discovering she had cervical cancer
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A woman is calling for pap smears to be done before the age of 25 after she was misdiagnosed four times by the NHS before finding out she had cervical cancer.
Student Jaelle Goddard, 24, from London started bleeding in between menstrual cycles in March 2021.
She was advised that the bleeding was likely hormonal and not something to worry about during her first visit to the doctor.
When the bleeding got worse she was told she may have been having a miscarriage.
Jaelle was sent for an ultrasound after insisting to her GP that something was wrong. She was told she had fibroids and hydrosalpinx, in which fluid blocks a fallopian tube.
Doctors thought she might have had an infection and she prescribed antibiotics.
“The bleeding got worse to the point of constant pouring blood and palm sized blood clots,” Jaelle said.
“I went to accident and emergency because I was terrified by that point.
“There, they ran blood tests, STD screens and did a pelvic exam which is where the first concerns of cancer were mentioned and I was referred urgently to an OB-GYN.
“He then did a pap smear - which was my first ever - and told me that it most likely would come back abnormal as my cervix looked ‘angry’.
“It did, so we did a biopsy, and I was told I had high grade dysplasia. We did a lletz to remove those cells which he also had biopsied. These came back showing cancer - so I was called in and everything was explained to me.”
She had Stage 3C cancer, meaning the it had spread to the lymph nodes in her stomach and pelvis. She was told she would never be able to have children and she would experience an early menopause.
Because her cancer was advanced she was offered a spot on a clinical trial which would offer her the best chance of survival. The offer, however, was from private health care meaning she had to raise £100,000 for the entire treatment.
Jaelle said: “I was fortunate with how responsive people were to my fundraiser. We managed to raise about £22k. This left me just short and we ended up having to delay treatment until August because of lack of funding."
Jaelle finished treatment in November and she is awaiting tests to see if her cancer is in remission. While fighting the disease she has had to take a break from work and school.
She said: “It’s taken a toll on everything I do as my energy is super low and my body feels tired and sore.
“To people having symptoms - I’d say get them checked out. It’s never a waste of time, it can potentially save your life and if the diagnosis feels dismissive, don’t shy away from getting a second opinion.
“Pap smears should be offered from an earlier age, because cancer clearly does not wait on you to turn 25.”