Derbyshire mum who was told she had two years to live 22 years ago continues to defy the odds - after being diagnosed with cancer for a third time

A Derbyshire mum-of-five who was told she had two years to live 22 years ago is continuing to defy the odds - after being diagnosed with cervical cancer for a third time.

By Harrison Moore
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 8:53 am

Lesley Woods, 55, was devastated when was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 2000 aged 34, but despite a terrible prognosis, she refused to give up.

She said 'yes' to every treatment possible - including 24 sessions of radiotherapy, which was so intense it gave her a hole in her bladder - leaving her in need of an urostomy.

But it was all worth it when she finally entered remission five years later.

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Lesley Woods continues to defy the odds - after being diagnosed with cervical cancer for a third time.

Mum-of-five Lesley battled the disease again in 2012, and was gutted when it returned for a third time in 2020.

Lesley has been having chemotherapy to slow down the effects of the cancer, but ultimately has been told there's nothing left doctors can do.

But she has been 'terminal' for the past two years, and continues to defy the odds, and puts it down her kids who have given her the strength to carry on.

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Lesley was devastated when was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 2000, aged 34

Lesley, from Long Eaton, said: "When I heard I had cancer for the first time it didn't feel real.

"At 34-years-old you think 'I'm too young for this', but cancer doesn't discriminate - it can come for anyone.

"Not only that, I was diagnosed as terminal straight off the bat and told by medical experts I had two years left to live.

"My immediate thought was there must be something we can do, and I opted for the most intense radiotherapy they could offer.

She said 'yes' to every treatment possible - including 24 sessions of radiotherapy.

"It made a hole in my bladder, and from then on I had to urinate into a bag, but I eventually beat the cancer and suddenly had a future again."

After entering remission in 2005, it looked like Lesley was in the clear, but in 2012 she started to experience sharp stomach pains.

She left it for a while, praying the pain went away, but it continued to worsen and she was forced to go to the doctors.

After routine tests and scans, Lesley received the devastating news that the cancer had returned.

Lesley couldn't have any more radiotherapy because of the damage it caused to her body first time round, and she was left with just one option - a colostomy.

A colostomy is an operation that creates an opening for the colon, or large intestine, through the abdomen, when a person can no longer pass stools naturally.

The operation was a huge risk for Lesley, and the chances of removing all the cancer were slim, but amazingly she recovered.

"When I started getting the pains in my stomach I immediately feared for the worst," Lesley said.

"I tried to put off going to the doctors because a part of me just didn't want to know, but the pain was too much.

"I received the news I'd been dreading for the past seven years, and was once again facing leaving my kids behind.

"All they've ever known is cancer growing up - it's always been there lurking in the background.

"Miraculously the operation was a success, but I was left with a stool bag as well as a urine bag for the rest of my life."

Lesley, who worked as a carer before she became ill, spent the next 8 years enjoying life, determined to stay positive for the sake of her family.

The successful surgery meant she was able to spend precious time with her children and watch them grow.

But in February 2020, just before the first wave of the pandemic, Lesley began to develop the same symptoms again.

Tragically, she was informed her cervical cancer had returned for a third time, 20 years after her original diagnosis.

Lesley, who has once again been told it is terminal, said: "This time round I've been told there's no cure and I have come to accept that.

"People around me who've been diagnosed with cancer have been and gone within five or six months which feels really strange to me.

"Getting diagnosed during the pandemic was horrendous as I haven't been able to get appointments when I've needed them.

"People say to me now how do you get out of bed every morning knowing you're going to die, but truthfully you don't think about it like that.

"You just take every day as it comes, put your best foot forward and try and live the most normal life you can.

"I want people to feel hope and positivity when they read my story, and encourage those diagnosed with cancer not to take no for an answer.

"It's been 22 years since I was told I had two years to live and I'm still here fighting."