Jessica Bradford, an 18-year old hairdressing student from Rhymney Valley in South Wales, was told by doctors that she was too young to have cervical cancer. She returned home and diagnosed her own symptoms by using the internet.
Doctors believed the symptoms she was suffering were due to having unsafe sex. However, after a huge number of scans, tests and biopsies, her worst fears were confirmed.
This brave young lady is now trying to juggle her college courses with treatment plans and wants to raise awareness of the problem.
She started experiencing a discharge and bleeding during December last year, which prompted her to visit her doctor immediately. The doctors first thought she had thrush and prescribed antibiotics. Thereafter they thought it was a bacterial infection and eventually told her that she had a sexually transmitted disease. Her mother stated that she had to endure about five visits to the doctors who all thought that it could not be cervical cancer because she was so young.
The NHS only offers screenings for females who are over the age of 20. Jessica, however, went home and researched her symptoms online, which prompted her to believe that she had cervical cancer.
After this discovery, she underwent internal scans which indicated that she had a growth on cervix. A biopsy revealed that it was cancerous.
The biggest shock for Jessica and her family came when she was informed that she would never be able to bear children as the radiotherapy treatment would cause her to become infertile.
Jessica loves children and was of the opinion that if she had to undergo chemotherapy, she may still one day be able to have children. However, having radiotherapy as well would destroy her womb, which eliminates her chances of bearing children.
Jessica is a determined young lady and is not going to ‘sit around and mope.’ She is determined to continue her studies while undergoing her five-week treatment courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Jessica and her mother have now made the decision to raise awareness about recognising the symptoms and going to your doctor early. They both believe that the age for smear tests should be reduced to 18.Jessica is hoping to recover fully and one day manage her own hair salon.
Image credit: Harsha K R