A 34-year-old woman who assumed she was having an irregular period was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Katrina Cunnane was given 12-24 months to live earlier this year, but she is “desperate for a miracle”.
Her nightmare began as she felt blood seeping through her underwear when she was driving to her mum’s house in Sydney in December 2018.
The then 32-year-old assumed it was an irregular period as she had recently stopped her contraceptive injection.
But her mum, a retired nurse, insisted she get it checked out straight away.
A pap smear, a procedure to test for cervical cancer which involves collecting cells from your cervix, revealed a mass of abnormal cells.
Katrina, a power lifter, told Daily Mail Australia : “We all knew that I had cancer, but no one wanted to say it out loud.”
The bleeding turned out to be the first warning sign that a huge tumour had grown across Katrina’s cervix and was spreading into her womb.
By April 2019 she was told the growth was too large to remove and the damage to her cervix was so serious that she’d never be able to have children.
Katrina was left heartbroken and inconsolable as her life-long dream of being a mum was shattered.
She began gruelling treatment including chemotherapy and radiotherapy in June that year and doctors assured her that her body had responded well.
But Katrina was given a further blow nine months later when in March this year a scan showed the cancer had spread into her pelvic tissue and lymph nodes.
The only option left was palliative chemotherapy, ‘end of life care’ for patients with terminal cancer.
Katrina was given 12-24 months to live and says: “I just remember going numb and starting to shake.
“The doctor had to write everything down for me because I couldn’t process what I was hearing.”
Katrina said when she phoned her mum to deliver the devastating news, she could hear her heart break.
She now hopes to be accepted onto an experimental immunotherapy trial as a chance to overcome her disease.
Katrina is also urging women to be up to date with their smear tests and look out for other women, and to speak more openly about vaginal issues.