Cervical cancer sufferer, 22, left infertile because she was “too young” for NHS test which could have picked up condition and spared her hysterectomy
A cancer sufferer aged just 22 who became one of the youngest women in the country to have a hysterectomy has hit out at the NHS for not giving her a smear test which she believes could have saved her fertility.
Natalie Carney faces an early menopause, chemotherapy and radiotherapy after having her womb removed following the devastating diagnosis earlier this year.
Now Natalie believes she would not necessarily have faced infertility if she had been legally allowed to have a smear test to spot her cervical cancer.
The former air hostess, who is coming to terms with being unable to bear children and going through the menopause before her mother, said if she had been given a smear test at age 20 her cancer could have been treated in its very early stages. The age at which women in England are offered regular smear tests is 25 even though the rest of the UK offers screening at 20. The screening age was only increased from 20 to 25 in 2003 as health bosses claimed it did more harm than good in younger women.
Doctors missed several opportunities to diagnose Natalie’s cancer and she was left suffering symptoms for months before the 3.5cm tumour was eventually found.
Despite initially being hopeful the cancer could be removed through fertility-preserving surgery, she was later told she would need a radical hysterectomy, then chemo and radiotherapy. She now faces a race against time to harvest her eggs before she begins treatment in the hope that she and her boyfriend of six months Adam Burton will someday be able to have a child.
Natalie said: ‘I shouldn’t be in this position. My cancer had been growing for as long as 18 months before it was discovered. If I had been given a smear test at the age of 20, it would have been pre-cancerous and they would have caught it in time. ‘I feel like my future has been destroyed and I have been forced to rethink everything. Adam and I have only been together for six months and now he may be my only hope to have children.’
Natalie first experienced symptoms in January last year when she started to suffer abdominal pains but it was only when the pain became unbearable in July that she went to Nottingham’s A&E department to seek help. There she was brushed off and told she was suffering from ‘women’s troubles’.
Natalie was so concerned by the pains she visited her GP a few weeks later and after a brief external examination was told it could be gall bladder infection but was probably nothing to worry about.
Cervical cancer symptoms do not always present all at once so when the pain went away on its own, Natalie decided to take the doctors’ advice not to worry. ‘Now I was being forced to think about the future and how it wasn’t going to pan out the way I imagined.’
However, in November, she started her relationship with Adam, 23, and experienced more pain when their relationship became physical.
But when she returned to her GP after suffering bleeding, there was still no mention of a smear test – with doctors instead recommending she be tested for sexually transmitted infections.
Natalie said: ‘I wasn’t very happy about that, I felt like she was assuming I had been sleeping around even though before I got together with Adam I hadn’t been in a relationship with anyone for over a year. ‘Like a lot of girls, I had lost my virginity at 16 but I was responsible and I had been suffering from stomach cramps for the last year. I knew it couldn’t be that but I agreed to the tests anyway.
‘The nurse explained to me that it would be just like a smear test but I had to say to her that I had never had one because I was only 20 so I wasn’t allowed one. ‘At no point did it occur to anyone to offer me a smear test.’
Natalie began bleeding while the swabs were being taken and from the look on the nurse’s face, she says, she knew there was something wrong.
The doctor was called in and it was agreed that Natalie would be referred to a gynaecologist. But, she says, she was assured it was unlikely there was anything wrong because of her young age.
The doctor and gynaecologist were convinced Natalie was likely to be suffering from a condition called cervical erosion which can cause bleeding in between periods.
However a colposcopy and biopsy revealed the worst possible truth. Natalie’s test results came back as positive for cancer.
She said: ‘Once someone tells you that you have cancer your whole world stops right there. ‘I couldn’t take in anything else the doctor said after that. I felt dizzy and sick for the rest of the day, it just wouldn’t sink in.’
Following an MRI scan Natalie was told that she may be able to have a trachelectomy, an operation that would remove the affected part of her cervix and then repair it to give her a good chance of being able to have children in future. But on closer inspection of the scan results it was decided the tumour was too large to treat in this way and a radical hysterectomy would be necessary.
Her tumour had been graded IB-I meaning it was less than 4cm in size and at stage one.
She added: ‘My womb would be removed so I would never be able to carry children of my own but it would mean I would still have my ovaries so I wouldn’t go through the menopause and I might someday be able to use my eggs in IVF and have children through a surrogate. ‘Until then I had never really given my fertility much thought. I was studying at night to become a nurse and I was concentrating on my career but I had always imagined that I would have a family someday. ‘Now I was being forced to think about the future and how it wasn’t going to pan out the way I imagined.’
Natalie underwent the four-and-a-half hour operation in March at Nottingham City Hospital during which her lymph nodes were removed to be tested to see if the cancer had spread.
But two weeks later she received the news she had been dreading – that the cancer had advanced to her lymph nodes and blood vessels, meaning five weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy which would rob her of her fertility.
Natalie said: ‘I was devastated. I was going to have to watch all my friends have children and my sister who already has a child bringing their families into the world and I would never be able to do the same.
‘The treatment was supposed to start in three weeks and it would take at least four to harvest my eggs. The cancer specialist told me not to hold my breath if I wanted to get funding but that they would delay the treatment for an extra week.’
Now Natalie is in a race against time to harvest enough eggs to create a few embryos with her partner Adam that will be frozen for the future.
British Pupils’ exam results ‘closely linked’ to parents’ education
British State schools are in general now so bad that you have to be bright to get your kid into a good school
Parental education has a far larger bearing on children’s exam results in England than in other developed nations, according to research. Pupils with bright mothers and fathers are more likely to exceed national averages in this country than those educated in nations such as Canada and Australia, it was revealed.
Just days before teenagers prepare to take their GCSEs, the study underlined the extent to which social mobility has now ground to a halt.
Academics from the Institute for Social and Economic Research, based at Essex University, found that parents’ success at a young age meant they could afford to live in areas with easy access to the best schools – giving their own children the best start in life.
In a controversial move, researchers suggested that more state secondary schools should adopt lottery-style admissions systems – when all applicants’ names are effectively placed in a hat and picked at random – to break the middle-class stranglehold on places.
It comes just days after Elizabeth Sidwell, the Schools Commissioner, endorsed the move, saying it was undesirable for schools to draw pupils from small affluent catchment areas.
Prof John Ermisch, one of the report’s authors, said: “The educational system is likely to be the most widely used and most acceptable policy tool we have for equalising life chances. Our analysis of England suggests that more equal access to good secondary schools – eg. through lottery allocation – could make a contribution.
“But as long as there is such a wide variation in school quality, such a policy would be resisted by better-off parents, because some would be forced to send their children to inferior schools.”
The study analysed exam results – and the outcomes of interviews – for around 16,000 schoolchildren born in 1989 and 1990. It checked pupils’ progress at 11, 14 and 16. The study found a “steep gradient” in the achievement of children with well-educated parents during adolescence.
This rise “becomes steeper between the end of primary school and part-way through secondary school”, it was revealed. “It appears to be related to the sorting of children into secondary schools, with more educated parents sending their children to better quality schools,” said the study.
Researchers analysed similar data in the US and found that the “parental education gradient when the child is aged around 14 was similar if not steeper than in England”.
But in Canada and Australia children’s achievements in test scores at 15 were “less strongly related to parents’ highest education”, suggesting these countries were much more socially mobile.
The conclusions come just days after Nick Clegg warned that snobbery is being turned into a national “religion” in Britain as millions of children from poor homes are denied good jobs because of class attitudes. The Deputy Prime Minister said a privileged few had a “sense of entitlement”.
Global Warming Author Says “Bar-Code Everyone at Birth”
In a fascinating insight into the mentality of those who espouse the mantra of catastrophic global warming, writer Elizabeth Moon has a short piece for the BBC in which she argues that everyone should be involuntarily implanted with a microchip at birth so that “anonymity would be impossible”.
Elizabeth Moon, who writes about global warming, wants everyone implanted with microchips for ease of identification and enforcement.
Moon, who has published essays warning of the dire effects of global warming and even made catastrophic global warming part of the background to her novels, made the stunning revelation in a BBC Radio programme on possible futures. Asked for her vision for the future of humanity, Moon stunned and “terrified” the other guests with this vision:
If I were empress of the Universe I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached – a barcode if you will; an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals.
It would be imprinted on everyone at birth. Point the scanner at someone and there it is.
Anonymity would be impossible as would mistaken identity making it easier to place responsibility accurately, not only in war but also in non-combat situations far from the war
Moon’s astonishing vision for the future reveals the warmist obsession with the supposed need for tracking and enforcement of personal behaviour. It reveals the fantasies of control and administration of everyday life that seem to motivate many of those whose professed concern is the future of the planet, but whose interests seem to actually lie in the ever-closer administration of individual’s daily lives. Only last year, the Infowars website detailed some of the proposals that were being floated for controlling people’s movements and activities, including carbon rationing and calorie cards whose avowed aim is the curtailment of people’s lives in the name of saving the environment.
Given the horrific history of totalitarian state’s attempts to dehumanise people by reducing them to mere ciphers, numbers in a database, you would think that an author such as Ms Moon who show a little cultural awareness and be wary of making proposals that apparently disregard the history of such attempts. But it seems that this is not the case. In revealing her fantasies of being “empress of the universe” and bar-coding humanity at birth, Ms Moon has done us all a service in giving us a glimpse into the future for us all which her and many others like her would like to see.
Liberal love of regulation holding British business back
Adrian Beecroft, who reviewed employment law for No.10, says that Liberal Democrat objections to plans for removing red tape are harming the economy and preventing companies from creating jobs.
In his first newspaper interview, the venture capitalist tells The Daily Telegraph that entrepreneurs are going abroad and that unemployment is rising because of the Coalition’s failure to help business. The impact on the public sector of outdated employment regulations is even more damaging, he says, with taxpayer-funded services “hugely less efficient than they could be” because of the legal difficulties associated with dismissing under-performing workers.
He concludes that the economy will grow by five per cent less than expected – the equivalent of more than £50 billion – because of the Government’s failure to push through radical reform of employment laws.
The Beecroft report was finally published earlier this week, following the leak of the recommendations to this newspaper. The central recommendations, which would make it easier for firms to sack poor performers, were dismissed as “bonkers” by the Liberal Democrats.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said he had seen no evidence that the measures would help the economy.
Today, Mr Beecroft says ministers are not focused enough on growth and urges the Prime Minister and the Conservatives to stand up to the Liberal Democrats.
“I do think they are hugely held back by the Lib Dems. I think you could put together a bunch of suggestions out of the report, as a coherent programme, that would say, you know, we are tackling the issues that business has with employment law but the Lib Dems will have none of it,” he says.
“Nick Clegg is always threatening to go nuclear and dissolve the whole thing if he doesn’t get his way with this, that and the other. Which you’d think actually must be a hollow threat. Therefore, why can’t the Government be more robust? I don’t know what the answer is. But it is disappointing.”
Mr Beecroft, who has sat on the boards of more than 20 companies, says of Mr Cable: “People find it very odd that he’s in charge of business and yet appears to do very little to support business.”
Recommendations from the Beecroft report to delay or halt family-friendly policies, such as flexible parental leave, were removed from the report by Downing Street without Mr Beecroft’s knowledge.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for No 10 declined five times to say that Mr Beecroft had approved the alterations to his report.
Mr Beecroft, a major Tory donor, says in today’s interview that he backs the delay of new family-friendly rules and questions why ministers want to “use businesses as a sort of agent of government”. Asked what the impact would be by 2020 if his recommendations were not introduced, Mr Beecroft said: “Some points of lost GDP. If all my recommendations were done in the private sector [there would be] up to five per cent [increase] of GDP.
“I’m convinced that the result [of not implementing the proposals] is less employment than there would be and that businesses are less efficient than they could be and that the public services are hugely less efficient than they could be.”
He adds: “There’d be more jobs and we’re in a sort of phase in this country and probably most of the western world where we’re so frightened of injuring people’s feelings, we ignore all the people, [because of] the unwillingness to injure some people’s feelings.”
He claims the Business Secretary’s objections to the proposals are “ideological not economic”. “I think he is a socialist who found a home in the Lib Dems, so he’s one of the Left,” Mr Beecroft says. “I think people find it very odd that he’s in charge of business and yet appears to do very little to support business.”
The venture capitalist also discloses that the Conservatives were very supportive of his proposals in private meetings, despite Mr Cameron now publicly distancing himself from the report.
He says: “I’m talking about Steve Hilton, that group and they assured me that David Cameron wanted to do the whole thing. Whether that’s right or not I’m not sure but that was the strong impression I got. I’ve been in meetings with Oliver Letwin and Ed Davey, where Oliver Letwin was all for and Ed Davey was totally against.”
He added: “And then there was a large argument which I’m told ended up in the ‘quad’ [the core Coalition leaders of Mr Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander] when they’re sort of trading off one policy against the other.”
Vindicated: British mother, 24, who fled to Spain when social services ruled she was ‘unfit’ to bring up child is allowed to keep her daughter
The family of a young mother who fled to Spain to stop social services taking her baby demanded an apology yesterday after health workers confirmed the girl was thriving under her care.
Megan Coote, who has mild learning difficulties, was told she would have to hand over her child because of concerns over its emotional development. Instead, she moved to Alicante where she gave birth to her daughter, Olivia.
She returned only after her parents were granted a court order allowing them to share her parental responsibilities – meaning she was certain she could keep her baby.
Now Miss Coote, 24, wants to highlight what she says are the dangers posed by social workers who wield the power to tear families apart. ‘I have proven the social workers wrong,’ she said. ‘They made the wrong decision.’
Her father Dale, a 47-year-old businessman, said: ‘We have just had Olivia’s two-year check and a health worker said she was well advanced and interacting with everyone perfectly. They were absolutely over the moon with her. ‘That made me think that social services had made a mistake and hadn’t apologised. ‘They haven’t apologised to my wife, who lost three stone when she went to Spain with Megan, or to my daughter for what they put her through.
‘They made her feel like dirt and she was talking about taking her own life if they took her daughter away.’
Miss Coote, who was diagnosed with learning difficulties as a child, became pregnant in 2009. Suffolk social services carried out an assessment which flagged up concerns about her low IQ and inability to show emotion, which it said meant she could not look after a baby.
Child protection officers also claimed Olivia’s father – from whom Miss Coote had separated – had a bad record with social services, but refused to give further details. Miss Coote’s father and mother Lorraine, 45, offered themselves as potential foster parents but realised staff did not favour their application after a report criticised the fact Mr Coote had smacked his three children to discipline them.
In February 2010, Miss Coote and her mother drove to Spain, where she gave birth a week later. The family spent £12,000 on accommodation and other costs until they were assured mother and child would not be separated.
A five-minute court hearing in January last year confirmed a ‘residence order’, meaning Miss Coote would live with her parents in Kesgrave, near Ipswich, and Olivia could be taken off the at-risk register.
Mr Coote, who owns three companies involved with the construction, container and motor industries, said: ‘When Megan came back from Spain an independent team of social workers were assigned to her. ‘They eventually apologised for interfering in our lives and said there was never any need for them to be involved. ‘I have phoned the council nine times to discuss the case and get an apology but they will not have a meeting with me.’
His daughter added: ‘I would tell other mothers in the same situation to keep fighting. You have to believe in yourself and know that you are a good mother.’
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, the chairman of campaign group Justice for Families, accused social workers of removing children from families for ‘spurious reasons’ and said experts used in family courts were ‘unreliable’.
He added: ‘They remove babies from people who are never given the chance to prove they are good parents – and even when there are good grandparents around. The Government should stop being complacent and take action.’
Suffolk county council said it was ‘delighted that everything has continued to go well’ for the family. A spokesman said: ‘When concerns about the wellbeing of a child are brought to the attention of children’s services, we have a duty to investigate.
‘Over the past two years, childcare professionals have had a very positive working relationship with the family.’ Asked about apologising for the Cootes’ treatment, they added: ‘We are more than happy to speak with the family when they feel the need to contact us.’