Woman, 24, misdiagnosed four times before being told she had stage 3 cervical cancer

News

A woman who was misdiagnosed four times before finding out she had cervical cancer is calling for better early-warning testing for young people.

Jaelle Goddard, 24, from London, started bleeding from her vagina in March 2021 in between menstrual cycles.

She is now battling to raise £100K towards pioneering cancer treatment.

The student said that when she first went to the doctor about the issue she was sent away, advised that it was probably hormonal and not to worry.

She returned for a second time after the bleeding got worse only to be told she may have been having a miscarriage.

After she insisted to her GP that something was wrong, Jaelle was finally sent for an ultrasound. This time she was told she had fibroids and hydrosalphinx, a condition in which the fallopian tube is filled with blood.

She was then given antibiotics as doctors suspected she may have had an infection – but nothing stopped the bleeding.

Eventually, as things continued to get worse, Jaelle ended up in Accident and Emergency.

“The bleeding got worse to the point of constant pouring blood and palm sized blood clots,” said Jaelle.

“I went to accident and emergency because I was terrified by that point.

“There, they ran blood tests, STD screens and did a pelvic exam which is where the first concerns of cancer were mentioned and I was referred urgently to an OB-GYN.

“He then did a pap smear – which was my first ever – and told me that it most likely would come back abnormal as my cervix looked ‘angry’.

Jaelle is now calling for pap smears to be offered before the age of 25.

“It did, so we did a biopsy, and I was told I had high grade dysplasia. We did a lletz to remove those cells which he also had biopsied. These came back showing cancer – so I was called in and everything was explained to me.”

Jaelle’s cancer was at stage 3C – meaning that the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in her stomach and pelvis.

This meant that Jaelle would never be able to have children, and that she would experience early menopause.

With such an advanced stage of cancer, Jaelle was offered a spot on a clinical trial, which would offer her the best chance of survival – but was only offered privately, meaning that she had to raise £100,000 for the entire treatment.

“I didn’t really process the diagnosis as everything happened so quickly,” said Jaelle.

“It has made me very paranoid and upset that I was misdiagnosed.

“I was fortunate with how responsive people were to my fundraiser. We managed to raise about £22k. This left me just short and we ended up having to delay treatment until August because of lack of funding.

“I finished treatment in November and am currently awaiting tests to see if my cancer is in remission but while fighting it I’ve had to take a break from work and from school.

“It’s taken a toll on everything I do as my energy is super low and my body feels tired and sore. I lost about 11-pounds during treatment – which on top of the weight I already lost from the onset of symptoms to the beginning of treatment made me drop three dress sizes, from a size 14 to a size 8.

“All in all, between the stress of fundraising, delaying treatment and just dealing with the cancer, it has been so hard both physically and mentally but it has really made me realize I need to look after myself more and make more effort in doing things that make life more worthwhile and make me happy.

“It has also made me more aware of how important preventive care really is so I’ve been ensuring I have checkups regarding everything else during this time.

“To people having symptoms – I’d say get them checked out.

“It’s never a waste of time, it can potentially save your life and if the diagnosis feels dismissive, don’t shy away from getting a second opinion.

“I think that had my symptoms been taken more seriously, we could have possibly caught my cancer earlier.

“Pap smears should be offered from an earlier age, because cancer clearly does not wait on you to turn 25.”