Mum, pregnant with cervical cancer issues heartfelt warning
A LOCKYER Valley mother who is battling her second bout of cervical cancer has urged all women to take the time to stay on top of their health and maintain their routine checks.
Melissa Cumming is a mother of two who was first diagnosed with cervical cancer back in 2016.
"Unfortunately, while I was pregnant the cervical cancer took hold and I was diagnosed not long after I gave birth to my youngest child," she said.
"It was very difficult and very emotional. Trying to look after a newborn baby that you can't even hold and pick-up.
"Then I was cancer clear for two years."
After celebrating the two-year milestone, Melissa's scans and check ups went from every three months to every six months.
It was in that time between check-ups when an aggressive rogue cell took hold of her body, bringing with it a secondary cervical cancer diagnosis in May this year.
"Unfortunately, I got a reoccurrence and the reoccurrence hasn't been very pleasant because it had spread to other parts of my body as well," she said.
"There was a growth in my pelvis and it had spread to my lymph nodes and also to my stomach with ascites fluid and fluid in my left lung.
"Even my oncologist was scratching her head. She couldn't believe it. Because my scan October last year was fully clear, and it went from that to aggressive cancer."
Four days later, Melissa started her chemotherapy treatment.
"From talking to my doctor last week, I'm going to be on treatment continuously until it stops working and then we'll deal with that then," she said.
"I'm unfortunately never going to be cancer clear and what that basically means is I'll be getting constantly checked and constantly having treatment every three weeks for the rest of my life, for ever how long that might be. I don't know."
While Mrs Cumming continues to undergo treatment, she's urging other women to ensure their pap smears are up to date as part of Cervical Cancer Awareness week.
"It's really important that people take the time out to just get that five-minute check with a qualified physician, because at the end of the day you just don't realise how blessed you actually are and how quickly your life can turn," Mrs Cumming said.
"It is one of those uncomfortable things, but honestly that five-minute check is a lot easier to get done than the alternative of what I'm going through right now. Considering all my checks were up to date and this can still happen, you just don't know what's around the corner unfortunately."
Melissa previously received help from a not-for-profit organisation called Mummy's Wish, which provided six free fortnightly house cleans.
When they ran out, one of Melissa's close friends Kirsten O'Conner set up a GoFund Me page to raise money and cover the costs for a cleaner to help the family keep on top of house work, which Melissa had struggled with while undergoing treatment.
"She decided on her own bat, I didn't' ask her to organise any of this and she totally blew me out of the water," Mrs Cumming said.
"Going through chemo, you're not allowed to touch chemicals. If I try and vacuum the house I pretty much pass out.
"I was just really overwhelmed by the generosity of my colleagues at work, my friends, my family. I'm not the type of person to take charity, I really struggle with taking charity, I'd rather give."