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Personal cancer story

Kirsten McCreghan

In March 2014, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

When I heard the words, it felt like the ground had opened and swallowed me whole. The word "cancer" made me think that my entire life was over. I was so scared and terrified of the unknown.

Kirsten McCreghan

After more tests, endless scans and appointments, I was told that it had been caught early. But I was faced with losing my reproductive organs through a radical hysterectomy and the thought of not being able to have children of my own terrified me. I placed my surgery on hold to be fast tracked through a round of IVF.

When I did have surgery in May, I woke up after five hours to the good news that the tumour had not spread, meaning that a radical hysterectomy was not needed and only the tumour, cervix and surrounding tissue had been removed. I now have to have Pap tests every three months for the next five years to make sure everything is ok.

During my experience of cervical cancer, I was also having countless ultrasounds done on a worrying lump in my breast. I was assured that I had nothing to worry about and that the cause was simply lumpy and dense breast tissue. But when one lump developed into two in late 2015, I pushed for another ultrasound referral from my GP. In September, I was told the devastating news that I had breast cancer.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was totally unprepared for the news and couldn't believe my luck to be diagnosed with cancer again. More testing, appointments and scans followed to determine exactly what we were dealing with. When I met with the breast surgeon I was advised that I had two aggressive tumours, but thankfully they hadn't spread to my major organs. The surgeon told me that my only option to reduce the risk of spreading was to have a left mastectomy and full auxiliary clearance straight away. That appointment was such a blur, I kept thinking why is this happening to me again? The results came back from my surgery confirming that only one out of the 12 lymph nodes removed had tested positive for cancer.

In November 2015 I began chemotherapy. My treatment plan is six rounds every three weeks followed by radiation. After only one round I had lost all of my hair. Chemotherapy has been by far the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. Ive had more bad days than good and can't wait for it to be over. I'm also having genetic testing as I have a strong family history of cancer and this may be of help to my family in the future.

I've had every scan under the sun - PET, MRI, CT, bone, heart - more than once. My hospital admission list is growing by the day. I'm tired of being tired, but realise that I'm one of the lucky ones. I may be bald but I am alive and prepared to beat cancer.

I am so grateful to my partner, family and friends who have supported me throughout this difficult time. I feel so lucky to have so much love and support around me.

My message to all women is to ensure you have regular Cervical Screening tests. It's just a few moments of discomfort for something that could save your life.

Read more stories about people's personal experiences with cancer