Cancer survivor, 41, left in wheelchair after never having a smear test

A 41-year-old mum says she had never had a smear test before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The Coventry cancer survivor shared her story as a warning to other women to get the test, after she came close to losing her life.

The mum-of-one is now in a wheelchair after she received treatment but was left with lasting physical damage.

She told Coventry Live: "I'm not even sure why I didn't go. We had just moved here from London and I hadn't bothered registering at a doctors.

"One day I had unusual symptoms and went to get it checked, but by then it was too late."

Rebecca lived a healthy and happy life with her family in Coventry until her world was turned upside down. She had never had a smear test, although she was eligible for one.

"They told me it was cancer, I couldn't believe it"

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Rebecca Webster moved to Cheylesmore from London with her son, Seth and her husband Paul, back in 2014.

Like most families, Rebecca found herself busy with work and home life.

She said: "My family and I moved here from London and I just ended up getting so busy with everything.

"I didn't even register myself at a doctors, never mind a smear test.

"I had to go to the doctors in the end, as I was suffering heavy bleeding and I was just tired and breathless.

Rebecca, who is a benefits officer, was then sent for multiple tests before she was told it was cervical cancer.

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She continued: "When they told me it was cancer, I couldn't believe it.

"They had to run some more tests before we knew it was specifically cervical cancer.

Did you know?: Every day in the UK nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer

"The problem was, I couldn't have hysterectomy, as the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.

"So that was then I started the treatment."

At the time Rebecca started her cancer treatment, her son, Seth, was just eight years old.

Rebecca had to have 28 sessions of radiotherapy, which she had daily, alongside five rounds of chemotherapy and three sessions of internal radiotherapy, also know as brachytherapy.

Rebecca explained: "Brachytherapy was really horrible.

"I would be in overnight and they would insert rods into your cervix.

"They would then give me the directed radiotherapy, before I had to have gas and air when they removed the rods.

"It was really painful."

Rebecca finished all her treatment and was told she was cancer free in June 2015.

But her story doesn't end there.

"I could barely walk"

Rebecca suffered severe side-effects as a result of the brackytherapy and is now a full-time wheelchair user.

She explained: "I was told the brachytherapy can lead to a lot of issues.

"In my case, I started getting pins and needles in my legs.

"It got worse over time, moving higher up my body, until I could barely walk and I was given a wheelchair.

"Now I can't leave it, I'm a full-time user."

This has had lasting effects on both Rebecca and her family, who had many plans for the future.

She said: "Seth was eight when I was diagnosed with cancer and now he's 13 and I'm in a wheelchair.

"He's had a lot to deal with but he has done so well.

"We really wanted to do Route 66 in America, and my condition will just make it a lot harder."

Rebecca added: "My family have been great and I have an amazing support network around me.

"I'm able to work from home now with my job, so that is ideal for me as well."

"The five minutes of discomfort is worth it"

Rebecca is now urging women to get their smear tests done.

"All the therapies for cancer are not pleasant.

"The imprint of the disease has lasted years and I will now always have issues as a result.

"Go and get your smear test done.

"The doctors and nurses have seen and tested loads of other women, they don't care about your body and don't care if you have nice knickers on or not.

"It is so important."

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to women and their families affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.

They offer support through a helpline, an online forum, events and other forms.

The charity are organisers of the cervical cancer prevention week and the #SmearForSmear campaign.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this article, the charity can offer support and advice.

If you would like to find out more information about the smear test, you can do so here.

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