A young woman from Bedfordshire, who tragically had her cervix removed in order to save her life after her cancer was missed during a routine smear test in 2015, has been awarded £65,000 in damages. Despite this, she still faces the fear that she may never conveive children naturally in her life.
‘Heartbroken’ Lauren Young, from Stotfold, feels that her chances of being a mum have been drastically cut, as a result of failure to diagnose the cancer sooner by medical professionals.
The 33-year-old, who is calling for more awareness of the disease, is now having to use her settlement money, secured by Veritas Solicitors, to fund costly IVF treatment to try and conceive.
Lauren was initially told by specialists she had ‘borderline changes’ in Human Papillomavirus (HPV) but was later advised of ‘no abnormal cells’ following a colposcopy done at Lister Hospital in 2015.
At her next screening three years later, she reported spotting which turned out to be grade 2 carcinoma of the cervix following an MRI scan and biopsies.
She said: “My sister came in the room with me when I was told the results and I remember sitting there frozen. I looked over at her and she looked so pale. I felt like I was listening to someone else’s results, it didn’t feel real.
“I was in disbelief. All sorts of thoughts go through your head, ‘I’m too young’ or ‘how can this be happening?’ You don’t imagine it to happen to you.
“I had radical surgery in the form of a Trachelectomy and Pelvic Lymphadenectomy in December 2018 at Watford General Hospital, where they removed my cervix.
“I’m so grateful to still be alive, but there is now a worry that I may never become a mum, which really frightens me. I’m thankful to Veritas Solicitors for at least giving us the chance of having children via IVF, which is not something my partner and I would have been able to afford otherwise.
“All my sisters have children, and I’ve wanted to be a mum ever since I can remember.”
In late 2018 Lauren’s original smear was reviewed as part of the National Invasive Cervical Cancer Audit, and the classification was upgraded to Glandular Neoplasia, which meant the cancer cells could have been present at the time of the initial test.
She was informed about the error by a consultant leading her treatment at Watford General before making a formal complaint to Lister Hospital.
Their investigation concluded that, albeit difficult for a medic to spot, there were potentially subtle changes present in 2015 and that a biopsy at the time might have helped in the diagnosis.
Lauren’s case was taken on by Veritas Solicitors in August 2020 and a claim was made against East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, who took over Ipswich NHS Trust where the pathologist was employed at the time.
The Manchester firm obtained independent expert evidence showing the 2015 cervical specimen had wrongly been reported as having “borderline changes” and a biopsy at the time would have confirmed pre-invasive cancer rather than developing into a tumour requiring radical surgery.
Lauren added: “I feel like I’m always looking over my shoulder, living in fear of it coming back. I never expected to go through something like this at such a young age.
“Shock aside, I feel disappointed because it’s something you don’t expect can happen. I trusted the experts and they got it wrong. I was heartbroken and just play over in my mind what could have been done differently.
“Aside from the physical pain, I have a constant fear of running out time in life, which is why I want to get on with it and see as much as I can.”
Currently on the NHS, women are not routinely screened under the age of 25 despite cervical cancer affecting younger women as well.
Lauren, who has been cancer-free for four years, is now calling for changes to the testing age range which she believes could save lives.
The professional photographer went on to say: “The fact that cervical cancer can affect younger women is often overlooked. I’m calling for a change in cervical screening to include women under 25.
“My advice to other women is if you feel something isn’t right, get it checked. Listen to your body and don’t put it off.
“People need to trust their instincts and not be afraid to speak up if they have concerns. Early detection can save lives, and I hope my story will encourage other women to be more vigilant about their health.”
Lauren’s solicitor, Amina Ali from Veritas Solicitors, added: “Lauren’s case highlights the importance of seeking legal advice if you have concerns about the medical care you have received.
“We hope that by sharing Lauren’s story, we can raise awareness of the impact that medical negligence can have on people’s lives and encourage others to come forward.
“It’s important to be aware of your rights and feel empowered to seek legal advice if you have concerns about your medical care. I also hope Lauren’s powerful story will inspire other women to be mindful about their own health. I wish her all the best in the future.”
For more information and advice, visit: www.veritassolicitors.co.uk