Sylvia and Jim

Sylvia's story

Jim MacLeod has spoken about how he couldn’t imagine life without wife Sylvia, two years after she was given the all clear after treatment for cervical cancer.

The couple, who have been together for 21 years, were on a cruise in August 2015 celebrating Sylvia’s 60th birthday when she noticed she was bleeding.

Worried about the symptom, Sylvia saw her GP on her return home, and subsequent tests showed she had stage two cervical cancer.  Six weeks of intensive treatment followed including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy, with Jim at her side throughout.

Reflecting on that time, Jim said:

"When we got the diagnosis, I felt as though my world was falling apart.  Nothing really prepares you for that news. I’d lost family members to cancer, and of course you fear the worst.  But Sylvia had a fantastic gynaecologist and all the specialists involved in her treatment helped us get through the diagnosis and the months that followed.

“She was so strong through it all, and I admired how she just got on with the weeks of treatment, even though you could see if was taking its toll.

“I’m just glad the cancer was found at a stage where it could be treated.  Getting the news Sylvia was in remission was such a huge relief and to this day I’m so glad she went straight to her GP.

“The doctors are keeping a close eye on Sylvia and with every appointment, it’s always in the back of your mind that things might have changed.  But we’re two years and five months from Sylvia getting the all clear and here’s hoping it stays that way as I can’t imagine life without her.”

All women in Scotland aged 25 to 49 are offered a smear test every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years.

Sylvia had always kept up to date with her smear tests, but Jim’s hospitalisation earlier in the year for gangrene, septicaemia, MRSA and ecoli following the infection of a leg wound meant that her attendance was delayed.

Sylvia said:

“It had been a busy year and I said to myself that I was going to make an appointment once I was back from my holidays.  When I had symptoms, I mentioned it to Jim’s district nurse who told me to make an appointment immediately, and I’m so glad I did.

“I’m not the type of person that runs to the doctor with the littlest thing.  I think many people just get on with things and think everything is fine.  But I knew deep down something was wrong, and my advice to others would be not to ignore it. 

“I couldn’t have got through it without the support of Jim and my friend Tricia Elder who drove me to and from the Beatson.  I can’t thank them enough.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been seen and treated early. If my story can help one person, then it’ll be worth it.”


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