Young mum who was ‘always diligent’ with pap smears until life ‘got in the way’ shares the one symptom that led to her cervical cancer diagnosis: ‘If I waited one more month I’d be dead’
- Brooke Gold, 36, was diagnosed with cervical cancer on February 18, 2021
- A pap smear led to detecting a 4cm tumour on the Sydney mum’s cervix
- She experienced symptoms that were said to be ‘side effects’ of the pill
- Surgery found the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, making it advanced
- Brooke is now infertile and has been thrown into early menopause
- She and her partner Jones Akuesson are considering surrogacy through IVF
Brooke Gold’s life was turned upside down when a shock cervical cancer in February, 2021, left her with a hole in her bladder, infertile and thrown into early menopause.
The mum-of-one, 36, had always been diligent with pap smears but admitted she had delayed check-ups over the past five years due to a busy lifestyle and a fear of the result due to a family history of cancer.
If she had delayed her check-up one more month, doctors believe she’d most likely be dead.
In November 2020, after experiencing spotting between her periods, a pap smear check-up led to the detection of a four centimetre growth on her cervix.
Since, the young HR manager has been on an ’emotional and physical rollercoaster’ during treatment and was left with awful side effects including a ‘hole’ in her bladder from radiotherapy.
Fit and healthy mum-of-one Brooke Gold (pictured) was diagnosed with cervical cancer on February 18, 2021 after experiencing spotting between her periods. A pap smear check-up led to the detection of a 4cm growth on her cervix
Since then the young Sydney HR manager has been on an ’emotional and physical rollercoaster’ enduring treatment and was left with awful side effects – including a ‘hole’ in her bladder from radiotherapy (pictured left to right: Brooke, her son Micah Brooklyn, 13, and partner Jones Akuesson)
Brooke was told by doctors if she delayed getting tested for another month she likely would’ve died (pictured during treatment)
In May 2021, Brooke was told the cancer had advanced to stage four and doctors attempted surgery to save her fertility but couldn’t proceed because it had already spread to her lymph nodes.
‘My family and I were told they were not sure if they could save my life at this point as it was advanced. They removed some lymph nodes and stitched me back up,’ Brooke told FEMAIL.
She remained in hospital for a few weeks then started chemotherapy and radiation.
Unfortunately she then had three weeks of internal radiation, and as a result has lost her fertility and been left with ‘severe radiation damage’, including constant pelvic pain, discomfort and menopause.
‘If I had of gone sooner for my pap smear, or if doctors told me when I was having symptoms that I needed a pap smear, I could have avoided cancer and losing my fertility,’ Brooke said.
‘I have a lot of radiation damage aside from just my ovaries ‘dying’ – I have severe burns inside my pelvis and a hole in my bladder from radiation.’
In May last year, Brooke opted to have surgery to save her fertility (pictured: before the surgery strapped to a heart monitor)
Unfortunately doctors couldn’t proceed as the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and advanced to stage 4 (pictured: Brooke and her son after being told the cancer had advanced)
‘Everywhere I turn, my friends are having babies and Jones and I now need a surrogate to have ours,’ she said.
There is one surgical option to attempt to reverse the damage caused by the radiotherapy, but it’s incredibly risky.
‘This option isn’t very reliable – there’s only a 20 per cent chance it’ll work as it’s such a complex surgery due to the radiation damage and the likelihood of all the body tissue just collapsing,’ Brooke said.
‘I’ve needed to have six weeks of hyperbaric oxygen everyday to see if that helps the dead tissue heal and whilst this helped some of the inflammation, it did not close the hole or fix the damage – so a very risky surgery is my only option.’
Brooke has told doctors she does not want to go ahead with the surgery for now as the risks are too high.
Brooke and her partner are now considering surrogacy, which she said will cost them $200K USD / $300K AUD. The huge bill includes the surrogacy agency fee to pay the surrogate and for all associated costs with IVF process (pictured: Brooke and Jones)
The young mum is also dealing with early menopause – another result of the damaging radiation she previously had
As for the surrogacy process itself, the couple only have two embryos from the IVF which were removed before Brooke’s initial surgery.
‘I feel sad about it (surrogacy) but happy we have this kind of technology and option available,’ she said.
‘It costs over $200,000 USD (close to $300,000 AUD) so it’s not cheap and the process is very very complex.’
The huge bill includes the surrogacy agency fee to pay the surrogate and for all associated costs with IVF process.
The young mum is also dealing with early menopause – another result of the damaging radiation.
‘Doctors said I “had the most amount of radiation humanly possible without it killing someone”,’ Brooke claims.
Now doctors have told Brooke she is ‘cured of cancer’ but requires full body scans every three months for the next five years to make sure there is no recurrence
Now doctors have told Brooke she is ‘cured of cancer’ but requires full body scans every three months for the next five years to make sure there is no recurrence.
But just because treatment has finished doesn’t mean the battle is over.
‘I struggle every day. They don’t tell you that when cancer treatments finish, it isn’t the end of the fight and in some ways,’ she said.
‘The last 12 months since treatment finished has been just as hard, if not harder than the treatment itself.
‘I feel like I am only just now processing the fact I had cancer and almost died. One more month and maybe they wouldn’t have been able to save my life.’
But just because treatment has finished doesn’t mean the battle is over. ‘I struggle every day. They don’t tell you that when cancer treatments finish, it isn’t the end of the fight and in some ways,’ she said
Brooke is making it her mission to combat against the cancer and raise awareness on social media. She has always maintained a fit and healthy lifestyle, eats well and goes to the gym often
Now Brooke is making it her mission to combat the cancer and raise awareness on social media.
She has always maintained a fit and healthy lifestyle, eats well and goes to the gym often.
‘Being diagnosed was a complete shock and the days that followed were a blur; I was terrified and overwhelmed over what will come next, I just kept thinking ‘why me?’,’ Brooke previously told FEMAIL.
The cancer itself is ‘terrifying’ as it’s usually asymptomatic – meaning someone could be living with the disease but have no symptoms.
She is forever grateful for her family and Jones for supporting her during the entire ordeal.
Cervical Cancer symptoms:
Early changes in cervical cells rarely cause symptoms. If early cell changes develop into cervical cancer, the most common signs include:
- vaginal bleeding between periods
- menstrual bleeding that is longer or heavier than usual
- bleeding after intercourse
- pain during intercourse
- unusual vaginal discharge
- vaginal bleeding after menopause
While uncommon, advanced cervical cancer may cause the following symptoms:
- excessive tiredness
- leg pain or swelling
- lower back pain
These symptoms can be caused by other conditions but if you are worried or symptoms persist, contact your doctor
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