Woman Supports Campaign As She Instructs Lawyers To Investigate Care
A woman has spoken for the first time about her battle to overcome cervical cancer and her heartbreak of how the disease has left her unable to have children.
Gemma Jackson, 37, had abnormal cells removed at Medway Maritime Hospital following a smear test in 2014. Doctors said they would increase the frequency of her screening to every six months, however, some of these were still carried out once a year.
In 2018 a smear test was classed as unreadable. Shortly afterwards Gemma, of Gillingham, visited a GP complaining of bleeding and fatigue. She was advised to wait three months for her next test, the result of which then came back as abnormal.
Following a biopsy Gemma, a merchandiser, was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
She underwent several procedures including a hysterectomy so that the abnormal cells could be removed. While the operations were successful, she has been informed there is a small chance of the cancer reoccurring. She has also had to come to terms with fact she is now unable to have children and is not eligible for surrogacy funded by the NHS as her partner has had children from another relationship.
Gemma has instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care she received.
She has joined her legal team in marking Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease.
Expert Opinion“The incident has been incredibly difficult for Gemma as she attempted to come to terms with her diagnosis and the effect it has had on her life.
“Understandably, Gemma has concerns about the care she received and we are now investigating those on her behalf.
“She has shown great bravery in speaking out about her experience, in a bid to help others affected by cancer and to raise awareness.
“Early detection is key to beating cervical cancer therefore it is vital that women fully participate in the NHS screening programme, are aware of the symptoms, and if needed, ensure they receive medical advice as soon as possible.
“It is important that women diagnosed with the disease do not feel alone as there is help and support available.” Tom Riis-Bristow - Associate Solicitor
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people affected by cancer
Gemma had a smear test in July 2014, which was recorded as abnormal. She subsequently underwent a procedure to remove cells.
Doctors said she should be checked every six months. In February 2015 Gemma had a smear. After this appointment subsequent tests were carried out every 12 months with no issues reported.
In August 2018 the results of a smear test were classed as unreadable. The following month Gemma started experiencing bleedings and fatigue. She was screened again in December 2018, the results of which were abnormal.
She was subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer and underwent a hysterectomy in March 2019.
Following her battle with cancer, Gemma now has smear tests every four months.
Gemma said: “Being told I had cancer was devastating. Nothing can prepare you for the news.
“However, the hardest part of it all has been facing up to the fact that I cannot have my own children.
“I adore my partner’s children but we wanted to add to our family by having children together. We looked into surrogacy and having my eggs frozen but as my partner already has children I’m ineligible. To be told that after everything we’ve been through was heartbreaking.
“Being told I cannot have children has been so difficult to take and it is hard not to think that the system is unfair and should be looked at again.”
Gemma added: “Cervical cancer is a terrible disease that just doesn’t affect those diagnosed but also their family and friends. The condition has had a major impact on my life. I just hope that by speaking out others become more aware of the symptoms so other women don’t have to face what I have.”
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is organised by charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and runs from 20-26 January.