Riarna Springbett was busy checking off all of life’s boxes.
She and her husband, Troy, were running their own business. They had a beautiful two-year-old boy, Hunter. And they were planning on adding to their family next year.
But in June, the Adelaide mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer at just 27.
Though she says her cancer diagnosis wasn’t completely unexpected. She knew she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene mutation, which means she was at a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
“My concern was with breast and ovarian cancer and I was having regular screenings, but then I ended up with cervical cancer,” she told Mamamia.
Riarna said abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge, lower back and abdominal pain and severe fatigue caused her to go to the doctor and have a pap smear in April – four months before her regular test was due.
While awaiting the results, Riarna discovered a lump in her cervix while inserting a tampon.
That lump turned out to be a tumour that was too large to remove and too difficult to operate on.
On June 17, a doctor told Riarna she had cervical cancer, which had spread to the lymph nodes in her pelvic wall.
“I just completely broke down,” she says on learning the news.
She said she was told on a Monday that her best chance of survival was to have her fallopian tubes removed and ovaries lifted out of the way to clear the path for radiation (her ovaries were kept to prevent menopause).
The surgery meant the young family could not have any more biological kids.
“We had two and a half days to get used to the fact that we couldn’t have any more children,” Riarna said.
“Being told I have cancer and then that I couldn’t have any more kids as well was quite emotional.