A mum-of-six has spoken out after being diagnosed with cervical cancer one year after seeking help for her symptoms.
Michelle French, 40, of Gladstone Close, claimed a year of cancelled appointments has left her with an advanced cancer, and things could have been different if it was detected earlier.
She was referred to the Eastbourne DGH gynaecology department by her doctor, but Michelle said several appointments were cancelled.
However, the DGH refutes this, and said only two appointments were cancelled which were rescheduled.
Michelle said when she did see the consultant, she had a scan and was told she had a fibroid. Suffering from lower back pain and heavy bleeding, Michelle even collapsed in August, and was taken to the Conquest by ambulance.
But it wasn’t until a second collapse on Sunday February 1, that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“I thought how can I tell my children,” she said.
Her husband Nicholas said, “I had to sit down and explain it to the children. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever had to do.”
Michelle will now undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy in three weeks time.
“When they initially said it was the fibroid it was the tumour,” she said. “If you think that was the tumour growing there within that year, with all those appointments cancelled and not being seen. It is now stage three.”
She said a consultant told her it was an aggressive cancer which had ‘probably been there a while’.
“I asked ‘Am I going to die,” said Michelle.
“He said I can’t answer that, but said he had a lady with the same tumour and with treatment it shrank to nothing.”
Michelle said her next appointment at the DGH was booked for April.
“If I had been left until April it could have been terminal,” she said. “I just do not want anybody else to go through the same thing. If you have lower back pain and bleeding between periods, go and get it sorted.”
A spokesman for the East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust said, “We are sorry that Mrs French’s condition has advanced. This is a very sad case and our thoughts are with her and her family. We are conducting a full investigation. However, this case does highlight the urgent need for women to attend their follow up appointments when requested.
“This allows for an early diagnosis to be made and treatment commenced. Failure to attend these types of appointments can have devastating consequences.
“Cervical screening is undertaken to detect early signs of cervical cancer and enable treatment of the disease before it become serious. Early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers. Therefore it is really important to have a regular smear test and attend any subsequent follow up appointments.”