A mum of five from Cleethorpes who is fighting incurable cervical cancer is urging women to go for their smear tests.
Sarah Clarke, 36, was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer on Thursday, March 31 at Grimsby hospital after first experiencing pain two years ago which included stomach cramps and vaginal bleeding. Sarah didn’t have a smear test but believes had she had one sooner, it could have detected the cancer in time.
She is suffering severe pain on a daily basis that is making her life ‘unbearable’ as the cancer has spread to her kidneys. Because funds are low in the family, Sarah has been traveling on her own to appointments leaving her scared, anxious and afraid.
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Lorraine Randall, Sarah’s close friend of 10 years, has set up a Go Fund Me page to help Sarah live more comfortably and is helping her to get her message out there. She said: “When she told me that she had cervical cancer, I was devastated.
“She’s still so young at 36 and has five beautiful children aged between nine and 20. She has stage three cervical cancer that has spread to her kidneys.
“It’s getting worse and worse as the cancer is spreading to her kidneys now. The cancer is manageable, but not curable.
“She was only diagnosed with the cancer around three weeks ago, which is unthinkable. It’s a terrible illness and it hasn’t sunk in yet for the whole family and Sarah’s friends.”
Lorraine says Sarah is being helped by Macmillan Cancer’s Palliative Care Team to get her to and from hospital. It can be a ‘lonely’ experience.
She said: “It’s awful when funds are limited for everyone at the moment. Sarah has to go on her own to appointments.
“It can be an extremely lonely experience. She suffers really bad from anxiety as well on top of the cancer. It is really too much for her because she says she is scared and afraid.
“We are fundraising to enable her friends and family to take Sarah to appointments so she’s not alone.”
Sarah had experienced pain in her abdomen for around two years but doctors at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital could not diagnose an illness.
She said: “Sarah had been having pain for so many years including heavy bleeding and excruciating stomach pain. Doctors prescribed her Buscopan – which relieves painful stomach cramps – and antibiotics but nothing could be found.
“It was only when she went to the hospital around a month ago that she was admitted for the painful stomach cramps and bleeding that they found something wrong with her kidneys. They performed scans for the first time and that’s when they made the connection to her cervical cancer.
“They also said that it looked to have been growing for over two years. They weren’t able to trace the signs of the cancer which has been awful for Sarah.”
Sarah underwent surgery on Thursday, April 14 at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham because her kidney is not operating properly. She is set to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions this week.
Lorraine says it is ‘heart breaking’ to see Sarah this way. But they also want to highlight awareness around cervical cancer and encouraging women to have smear tests.
She told Grimsby Live: “I hate seeing her the way she is because she is such a bubbly person who would do anything for anybody. Now that has been drained out of her.
“She’s not the same person anymore but we are here to love and support her. It’s an important issue to raise because Sarah never had smear tests when she was told to.
“People are frightened and scared of hospitals. Women really need to have smear tests just in case something is wrong. Maybe it could have helped Sarah find the cancer sooner as well but we will never know.”
A cervical cancer charity has spoken to Grimsby Live about the importance of women having smear tests. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is one of the UK’s leading cervical cancer charities and they say it can be detected much more quickly through cervical screening.
Samantha Dixon, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Cervical screening is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cervical cancer. Any cells that have the potential to develop into cancer can be detected and treated if needed at the earliest stage.
“It’s not always an easy test to book and attend, so if you have questions or concerns please know there is help out there. You can visit our website or call our Helpline on 0808 802 8000.”
You can support Sarah’s Go Fund Me here.