The effect cervical cancer will have on your daily life will depend on:
- the stage the cancer is at
- the treatment you're having
Treatment for early-stage cancer is likely to have little effect on your daily life. But it can cause understandable anxiety.
Some of the treatments at later-stages can be very difficult. They can make you very tired and lead to long-term complications that are difficult to deal with.
This is particularly so with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
You may need to take a break from your normal activities for a while.
Do not be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Practical help may also be available from the HSE.
Ask your doctor or nurse about who you should contact.
Life after a radical hysterectomy
Many women with cervical cancer have a radical hysterectomy. This is a major operation. It takes time to recover from.
You will need 6 to 12 weeks off work after a radical hysterectomy.
During recovery, try to avoid strenuous tasks and lifting. For example, lifting children or heavy shopping bags.
You probably will not be able to drive for at least 3 to 6 weeks. Check with your insurance company to see what their rules are.
Having cervical cancer does not necessarily mean you'll have to give up work. But you may need a lot of time off.
During treatment, you may not be able to carry on working as usual.
Your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you because of your illness. They have a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' to help you cope.
Examples of these adjustments include:
- time off for treatment and medical appointments
- flexibility with working hours
- changing the tasks you have to perform or your working environment
Give your employer as much information as possible. Let them know how much time you will need off and when.
Talk to a member of your human resources department, if you have one. Your union or staff rep can also give you advice.
Money and benefits
You may find it difficult to cope financially if you have to:
- reduce work because of your cancer
- stop work because of your cancer
You may be entitled to a medical card or financial support if you
- have cancer
- are caring for someone with cancer
Your GP or doctor can tell you what help is available as soon as possible.
If you are having ongoing treatment for cancer, you may be entitled to an emergency medical card.
Many women feel nervous about having sex after treatment for cervical cancer. But it's perfectly safe. Check with your doctor if you have any worries.
Sex won't make the cancer come back. Your partner cannot catch cancer from you.
You can usually start having sex again a few weeks after finishing radiotherapy.
If you have had surgery, your doctor will advise you about when you can return to sexual activity.
Don't be embarrassed to ask them any questions that you have. They are there to help you get your life back to normal. Sex is an important part of normal life.
More information and support
The Irish Cancer Society has information on all aspects of cervical cancer.
Local cancer support groups may also be available in your area.
Your GP or doctor should be able to provide contact details.