A mum whose dizziness was diagnosed as cancer has urged other women to not be embarrassed to go for check-ups.
Kathy Morse, 52, first noticed something was not right when she experienced dizzy spells when she was sat down, but blood tests initially ruled out anything serious.
She later found a lump in her groin and, ignoring any potential embarrassment, booked an appointment with her GP.
A biopsy later confirmed she had stage three vaginal cancer and the next month underwent a seven hour operation to remove it.
It was later found to have spread to her lymph nodes and, in the course of five weeks, she underwent 25 rounds of radiotherapy and five courses of chemotherapy.
Mum-of-two Kathy said: “If I didn’t go through those 15 minutes of embarrassment with my doctor I might not be having this conversation now.
“It’s a very rare form of cancer and most people I’ve spoken to have never even heard of it.
“I had a full hysterectomy 15 years ago as well so it seemed like I had less chance of developing anything in that region.
“I just started to feel really dizzy when I was sitting down. When I stood up I felt absolutely fine. I went to the doctors and my blood pressure was fine, they ruled out everything with blood tests.
“I never felt ill. Then I felt a lump in that area. It wasn’t painful and I just thought it was a cyst that would need removing so I booked to see my doctor.”
Vaginal cancer is an extremely rare and aggressive illness which affects just 250 women in the UK each year.
Around 40 per cent of those diagnosed with the condition are aged over 65.
Common symptoms include unexpected vaginal bleeding, a vaginal lump, pain when urinating, persistent pelvic and vaginal pain and vaginal pain during sexual intercourse.
Katy added: “If I had not gone to the doctors when I did, I really believe I wouldn’t be here now.
“What if I had been too embarrassed to see my GP? If I can help just one person that’s enough.
“It makes me angry when people find these lumps and they don’t get checked out. I know there are a lot of people that don’t want to go to their smear tests or general gynaecological appointments.
“When you have a cancer that is really rare it’s isolating, but why should we feel embarrassed? Deborah James was amazing in raising awareness about bowel cancer and I want to do the same.”
September is gynaecological cancer awareness month and Kathy is using it to spread awareness about vaginal cancer.
The mum-of-two is also using her story to campaign for pelvic checks to be offered to women, alongside smear tests.