Woman called ‘medical mystery’ by doctors after smear test revealed rare cancer

A foster mum labelled a “medical mystery” by doctors has been diagnosed with a rare vaginal cancer at the age of 47.

Three months ago Andrea Oliver went for her regular smear test and was shocked to be told results uncovered abnormalities despite her having no symptoms.

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Doctors were left baffled by her case as they struggled to work out where her cancer was.

Andrea was later given the terrible news following more testing and the discovery of a 3cm tumour.

She was told she has stage 2 primary vaginal cancer, which fewer than 300 women are diagnosed with in the UK each year.

She is sharing her story to highlight the life-saving importance of getting smear tests.

She initially went to Sunderland Royal Hospital for tests before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and then Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where the cancer was uncovered.

She said: “I still don’t have any symptoms, I just went for my smear test and they called me and said there were five different stages and I was at the cancer stage.

“They took a biopsy of my cervix and it came back negative.

“I knew I had cancer but they didn’t know where it was, they said I was a medical mystery.”

Andrea, who is married to husband Marc and is caring for three children, starts treatment on June 28 and will receive five weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Since her shock diagnosis, Andrea is urging other women to stop delaying and book in for their smear tests.

She said: “I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, I just want to make people aware.

“It’s so important to get your smears. Some people don’t want to show their body or are worried because they haven’t shaved but this is your life we’re talking about.

“I had no symptoms but if I didn’t have my smear and waited years then I could have been riddled with it.”

Andrea also told her story in a post on Facebook which she said even led to one woman in London booking in for her smear after putting it off for years.

She said: “I’ve had several women contact me to say they read my story and booked in for their smear test. Even if one person went for their smear it would be worth it, that’s all I wanted.”

In her post, Andrea said: “My story would have been so much different had I not decided to go and I would not have had the chance to see my girls grow up, or to grow old with my husband or to enjoy life past my 47 years of age.

“If nothing else, learn from my story and please get checked. Give yourself the best chance possible.

“If anyone needs a lift or even a hand to hold please let me know I am more than happy to help.”

Despite her diagnosis, Andrea is remaining positive and said she wants to keep life as normal as possible.

She said: “I knew I had it so I had come to terms with it. I have three children so I’m just trying to keep things normal.

“I don’t want anything to change so hopefully I can still do the school runs. People are saying it’s not going to be possible but until I get to that stage I want to have a normal life.

“I just want to have a normal life with my husband and children. It hasn’t spread, I’m getting treatment, so you have to stay positive.”

Andrea’s sister Lynne has since decided to set up a raffle to raise money for local charity Amber’s Law, which was set up in memory of Amber Rose Cliff.

Amber, from Sunderland, died in January 2017, following a four-year battle with cervical cancer, after she first began experiencing symptoms in her late-teens.

Tickets can be purchased for £1 for a strip via PayPal and the raffle will be drawn on July 8.