‘I never experienced any other symptoms besides mild spotting.’ – Klodjana’s story
42-year-old Klodjana shares her story, from receiving a cervical cancer diagnosis, to having robotic surgery, and running The Royal Parks half marathon, raising over £3,000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
“My experience all started almost by chance” says Klodjana. “I was fit and healthy, passionate about running and other fitness activities and had no symptoms. I first noticed mild spotting between my periods in September 2020. Initially I didn’t worry about - I had no pain or discomfort, so I just put it down to hormonal changes. I have always been on top of my check-ups, never missed a smear test and since I was due to have one at the end of that year, I decided to book an appointment with my GP in October 2020.”
During the smear procedure the doctor became concerned and referred Klodjana to hospital for a colposcopy. A few days they called her back for an MRI and CT scan.
‘I knew in my gut that I was going to get a cancer diagnosis’
“I’ve always been curious about medicine, so the moment they called me in for additional scans, I immediately knew that something was wrong. After the scans, the nurse called me to let me know that I needed to go back in for an appointment. I took my friend with me; I knew in my gut that I was going to get a cancer diagnosis, but I had no idea to what extent and how bad it was going to be.”
In October 2020 Klodjana was diagnosed with Stage 2B cervical cancer and was referred to The Royal Marsden for treatment.
“I just kept thinking how was this possible when all my smear tests before this had always been negative? I couldn’t get my head around how in the space of three years I went from a clear smear test to a stage 2B cancer. Cervical Cancer is known to grow slowly and yet this happened to me.”
“From the moment I was diagnosed, everything moved rapidly, and the doctors were proactive. They assured me that I was going to be treated by one of the best hospitals in the UK. Today, I can definitely say that they were right.”
“I was referred to The Royal Marsden in November 2020 and had my first appointment with Dr Alexandra Taylor. She calmly explained everything to me and gave me lots of information – not just about the cancer treatment but about things like fertility implications. My clinical team explained everything at the hospital, what would be happening – step by step.”
"All the staff at The Royal Marsden are so great. They are attentive, understanding, knowledgeable, they inspire trust in you. This feeling is so important. From the security person at the entrance of the hospital to every single nurse or doctor I met from the different teams; they were all amazing. You really feel like you are being taken care of.”
Treatment for cervical cancer at The Royal Marsden
“My treatment was intense. I was having radiation every day and chemotherapy every Thursday for two months. I spent so much time at the hospital, The Royal Marsden felt like my second home. When I was having chemotherapy, all the nurses on the Medical Day Unit were so lovely. They were so kind and full of energy. I would always have so many questions about my treatment – what is this liquid? How does this work? And they patiently would answer everything.”
“I finished my treatment end of February 2021, however my scans showed there were still traces of cancer there, so we needed to do something to get rid of these cells. This is when I was introduced to Ms Marielle Nobbenhuis.”
Robotic surgery under the care of Ms Marielle Nobbenhuis.
“After a few internal examinations and a biopsy Ms Nobbenhuis discovered unfortunately I would need a radical hysterectomy to ensure they were getting rid of all the remaining cancer cells. This felt very scary at the time. I was worried about having surgery and what my recovery might look like, but Ms Nobbenhuis explained how the procedure would be using the DaVinci robot. She told me how precise it was, and I felt reassured. I trusted this process, so much so that I agreed to have the surgery recorded, for her team’s research purposes. The nurses held my hand, even when I was asleep before and after my surgery. They were always there for me.”
“Since my surgery, everything has been absolutely fine. I feel well and go back to the hospital for routine check-ups. My last MRI scan was all clear - I was positive that it was going to be good news and it was!”
“I am really happy and relieved that I no longer have cancer however, the emotional and physical effects of this experience are long term. It’s tough, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ll never be able to have children and medically induced menopause is still challenging. I am still struggling to come to terms with how this has happened to me.”
In 2022, Klodjana took part in The Royal Parks half marathon, raising over £3,000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity as a way of saying thank you to the hospital that saved her life.
“I’ve always been a runner, I only stopped for a couple of years whilst I was having treatment. It was an absolute pleasure to run the Royal Parks half marathon for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. It was a glorious day, and I really enjoyed every minute of it. I ran with two of my friends and we’ve raised over £3,000! I’m l really pleased with what we achieved.”
“I’ve raised money for charities before but when you fundraise for somewhere that you think of as home - it enhances the experience so much. I’ve spent so much time at The Royal Marsden, a place which saved my life, so it was really exciting and emotional taking part in this event to support The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. It was such a positive experience. It felt like it was my own race, and I was running it for myself – it was very personal.”
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