Hard road to a new start

Date23 June 2021
Publication Date23 June 2021
It was a routine cervical smear test that resulted in a shock diagnosis of cervical cancer for young Lanarkshire woman Vikki Ridler.

Here, she explains how she came out the other side - and why she's now a Jo's campaigner for greater awareness and more support for other young women like her.

When young mum Vikki Ridler was informed at the age of 28 that she'd need to undergo a hysterectomy to free her of the cancer growing on her cervix, she began planning her funeral in her head.

After four years on her own with two young children, Vikki was relishing the excitement of a new relationship, she was climbing the career ladder, and life was good. Then, the day before her 28th birthday, came the shock diagnosis that would in time annihilate her world and trigger a set of circumstances that would rob her of her mental health - and her love of living.

Cell changes detected by a cervical smear test were attributed to the fact that she had recently given birth to her second child.

Having experienced slight bleeding mid-cycle, she made an appointment with her GP eight months after an earlier screening, during which another smear test was carried out.

Then came a letter that pre-cancerous cells had been detected, and Vikki was called for cold coagulation - a procedure that uses a heated probe to destroy abnormal cells on the cervix (neck of the womb).

""he doctor said he was going to take a couple of biopsies," she said.

"I went home after the treatment and thought nothing more of it. I thought that was it done."

Two weeks later, estate agent Vikki was at work when an 0800 number rang her mobile.

"It was my consultant's secretary," she explained.

"She was very matter-of-fact.

She told me an appointment had been made for the next day. Then, she said: 'You need to make sure you bring someone with you.' That started a whole episode of panic. I refused to get off the phone until somebody spoke to me. Eventually, I got through to someone called Fran, who later became very important."

Vikki and her mum attended University Hospital Wishaw the next day and, after a two-hour wait, Fran introduced herself and led them through to the consultant.

It was explained that the biopsy had thrown up traces of cervical cancer. The stage it was at had yet to be determined, and there was a need to discuss what happened next. Feeling completely numb, Vikki quietly asked Fran for water and tissues for her mum, who had fallen apart beside her.

Although cervical cancer is one of the slowest...

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