Ipswich cervical cancer campaigner Tayne Eaton could not believe her 9cm tumour was not spotted for two years
- Credit: Archant
A young mother who showed symptoms of cervical cancer for two years before being officially diagnosed with the disease is urging women to trust their instincts if they feel they might be affected.
Tayne Eaton from Ipswich believes failure to investigate her symptoms properly at a time when she was too young for a smear test was the reason for the delay.
She is now hoping her story will raise awareness of the condition and is taking legal action against her GPs in Essex.
Now aged 25, Mrs Eaton first show signed of cervical cancer in the summer of 2013 and was seen at her GP surgery a number of times.
Her symptoms worsened after giving birth to her son Reggie-Lee in September 2014 but it was not until March last year a tumour was found.
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“I was in good health before the summer of 2013 but since then it’s just been one long nightmare,” Mrs Eaton said.
“I had a tumour that was almost 9cm in size and it just wasn’t spotted. I don’t understand why.
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“I believe that if the cervical cancer had been diagnosed sooner that I would not have required such drastic treatment and many of my current problems would have been avoided.”
Mrs Eaton is no longer able to have children as a result of the treatment she needed, which included chemotherapy and surgery.
She also lost a lot of her mobility and was unable to walk very far.
“I hope by sharing my story and by taking legal action it raises awareness of cervical cancer and ensures other young women attend for their smears which sadly weren’t available for me given my age,” Mrs Eaton added.
“It is also really important that, if they have any of the signs of cervical cancer, they don’t ignore them but instead trust their instincts and push for further testing if they aren’t satisfied.
“The past three years have been devastating for me. I knew something was seriously wrong but I just seemed to go from test to test without anyone really knowing what was happening.
“I feel that just because I am young, cervical cancer was never really considered.”
Representing Mrs Eaton in her legal claim is Guy Forster, a specialist medical negligence lawyer for Irwin Mitchell.
He said: “In recent years we continue to see many cases where women have had their lives devastated because of unnecessary delays in diagnosing cervical cancer.
“Our cases often involve delays in diagnosis and treatment for a number of reasons, from not carrying out the appropriate tests, misdiagnosis and even lost medical details, and the results can be devastating.
“It’s also surprising to see how many women each year are not attending cervical cancer screenings.
“Cervical cancer is a treatable disease with a good long term prognosis when it is diagnosed early, but delays can have terrible consequences.”
This week is also Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and charities are, like Mrs Eaton, trying to raise awareness of the condition.
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “It is a matter of urgency that we see positive actions to turn around the downward trend in cervical screening uptake and we are urging policy makers and health professionals to increase investment in targeted approaches to tackle barriers to screening for women of every age, ethnicity, location and circumstance.
“By encouraging women to attend cervical screening it has the potential to save countless lives and ultimately contribute to eradicating this largely preventative and hugely devastating disease.”
THE ‘JADE GOODY EFFECT’
In August 2008 reality TV star Jade Goody was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
As a result of this the disease gained widespread media coverage before she died in 2009 aged 27.
Later the same year Cancer Research UK revealed the number of women attending appointments for cervical cancer screening had risen for the first time since 2002.
This was attributed to the publicity surrounding Goody’s case which was thought to have encouraged many younger women to get themselves tested.
However data from the Health and Social Care Information Commission showed screening rates for 20 to 64-year-olds had fallen from 3.68million women in 2009 to 3.16m in 2015 – despite 4.51m women being invited to a test.
Casey Dunlop, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “Every year cervical screening in the UK saves thousands of lives – by detecting changes in the cervix before they develop into cancer.
“While the number of women attending their cervical screening appointment increased around the time of Jade Goody’s death from cervical cancer, this increase hasn’t been sustained.
“Women who are registered with a GP and live in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will be invited when they’re 25 and screened until they’re 64.
“It’s important to remember that cervical screening is for women without symptoms. Any women experiencing any unusual or persistent bleeding, pain, or change in vaginal discharge – even if they’ve been screened recently and whatever their age – should get it checked out by their GP.
“Chances are it won’t be cancer but, if it is, getting it diagnosed and treated early can make a real difference.”