On World Cancer Awareness Day, we hear from our brilliant HR colleague and heroic cancer survivor Anna Millington about her brush with cancer, early diagnosis and her new zest for life since getting the all clear.
A routine smear test in 2021 saved the course of Anna’s life forever.
Having experienced no symptoms of any kind, Anna was surprised to receive a call from a nurse six weeks after the test, asking to see her in person. Abnormalities had been detected and Anna was immediately referred to a specialist unit. Remembering being told the words ‘You have Cancer’ is etched in her memory and Anna’s first question to the specialist was “Am I going to die?.” Although assured she wasn’t, Anna’s ordeal was just beginning.
At just 32, the mother of one was diagnosed with stage 1B3 and would have to undergo a ‘radical hysterectomy which would mean having her womb and ovaries removed. Knowing this would take away her chances of having any more children, Anna said it was “a no brainer.” She underwent surgery on 28th of September 2021 but came round to the bombshell news that the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes and the cancer was then restaged at 3C2.
Anna then had to endure intensive Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and Brachytherapy over a five-week period. The whole ordeal happened during the Covid window which meant Anna had to attend hospital appointments alone.
Recalling that time she said: “It was difficult. The treatment was gruelling and to make matters worse, I caught Covid during treatment. The nurses were absolutely brilliant though and didn’t pause my treatment.” Anna’s story ends on a positive note and on the 12th of February 2022 she got the all clear with no evidence of any further signs of cancer.
Although still under clinical care for the next 5 years, Anna is wasting no time in grabbing life by the horns. “The whole experience has changed me, and I don’t want to waste any time and continue to make memories with those around me. I also wanted to give back to the cancer community and have done so by completing two charity fundraisers. I climbed mount Snowden in 2022 and then a 5k mud run in 2023 raising over £3000 combined.”
Asked about any advice she’d give after her experience she said: “I can’t stress the importance of early diagnosis. If you detect anything unusual, get it checked out. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Early diagnosis really does save lives.”