Cathryn Willson is told she has cervical cancer while GIVING BIRTH

A mother was devastated to be diagnosed with cervical cancer after doctors noticed a tumour – while she was giving birth.

They initially thought the lump was the baby’s hand during Cathryn Willson’s labour with her second daughter.

But on closer examination with a torch, they soon realised it wasn’t but pushed it to one side to concentrate on a safe delivery.

Miss Willson, 36, and her partner George Matuska, 33, took baby Robyn home later the same day and forgot about it.

Just six weeks later at a postnatal check-up, they were horrified to be given the news she had stage two cervical cancer which had already spread to her womb and vagina.

Cathryn Willson while pregnant with 'life-saving' daughter Robyn She shares a cuddle after giving birth to Robyn

Cathryn Willson had no idea she had cervical cancer until  doctors spotted a lump while she was giving birth to daughter Robyn (right)

The mother-of-two went for a smear test in 2003 but says she had recently given birth to first daughter Milli (left) when she was invited to attend her next one.  It was during her post-natal check after Robyn was born (middle) five years ago, doctors discovered she had cervical cancer

The mother-of-two went for a smear test in 2003 but says she had recently given birth to first daughter Milli (left) when she was invited to attend her next one.  It was during her post-natal check after Robyn was born (middle) five years ago, doctors discovered she had cervical cancer

‘Initially the midwife thought the baby was coming out with its hand on its head,’ said Miss Willson. 

‘I had doctors look up me with torches. They realised it was a lump but they just moved it aside.

‘I went home a few hours later and I forgot about it until the post-natal check-up.

‘When I was diagnosed, I just sat in the waiting room crying my eyes out. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to see my daughters grow up.’

Miss Willson said had not kept up to date with cervical smears after attending her first one in 2003, which came back clear. 

When she was invited to attend another three years later, she had recently given birth to her first child Milli, now 11, and ignored it because she was busy. 

It was only after having Robyn, now five, she discovered she had developed the disease.  

She says she was discharged just 90 minutes giving birth in March 2011.

Five weeks later, she began bleeding heavily but says she was advised it was just her period returning.

It wasn’t until she had her post-natal check up she was told something was wrong.

‘The gynaecologist said it was something serious and it would have to come out. They said they’d like to remove it.

‘Before I had even left the hospital, I was called to attend a colposcopy so I went in the next day.

‘Before I had even sat down in the room the doctor said ”You’ve got cancer”.

‘It was a bombshell.’

Father George Matuska, with baby Robyn, had to do nearly all of the early childcare as Miss Willson was undergoing intensive treatment

Father George Matuska, with baby Robyn, had to do nearly all of the early childcare as Miss Willson was undergoing intensive treatment

Miss Willson, pictured here midway through her chemotherapy, said it was difficult to bond with Robyn while she was so drained from treatment 

Miss Willson, pictured here midway through her chemotherapy, said it was difficult to bond with Robyn while she was so drained from treatment 

She has since recovered from treatment and says her relationship with both daughters is now perfect

She has since recovered from treatment and says her relationship with both daughters is now perfect

Miss Willson was told she would have aggressive treatment as the cancer had spread to her womb and vagina.

She immediately started on chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy, which lasted from June until August that year.

The intensive treatment caused her relationship with her newborn to suffer.

‘It was so hard. Luckily my partner’s work was supportive and gave him the time off,’ she said.

‘He did all of the night feeds. He was mum and dad. I felt so horrible from the treatment, sick and tired. It was a blur really.

‘I had nothing to do with her for the first six months.

‘It was really hard to bond with her initially, but now she’s five and we have no problems at all.

‘I tell her she’s mummy’s little angel. If it wasn’t for her I would never have known I had cancer. She saved my life.’ 

Miss Willson was given the five-year all clear last week but fears the cancer may still return. 

She is now urging other women to keep up to date with screenings. 

‘I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t ignored that letter,’ she said.

‘Things might have been different.’ 

Miss Willson has shared her story as part of Cervical screening awareness week.

For information visit  Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CERVICAL CANCER?

About 3,100 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.

The symptoms aren’t always obvious and may not appear until the disease has reached an advanced stage.

In most cases, abnormal bleeding is the first sign. It usually occurs after sex although any unusual bleeding should be investigated.

Other symptoms include pain in and around the vagina during sex, an unpleasant smelling discharge and pain when passing urine.

If the cancer has spread there may be other symptoms including constipation, blood in the urine, loss of bladder control, bone pain and swelling in the legs and kidneys.

The NHS offers a free cervical screening test to all women aged 25-64 every three to five years.

It is not a test for cervical cancer, but it identifies early abnormalities which, if left untreated, could develop into cancer of the cervix (neck of the womb).

If you are concerned about symptoms but are under 25 you have the right to an internal examination.