A MOTHER had part of her clitoris ‘shaved off’ after her cancer symptoms were repeatedly dismissed as thrush.
Toni Williams, 54, first became “red raw” and “itchy” down there in 2018 — a key symptom of vulvar cancer.
After claiming after several doctor visits that she had been misdiagnosed with a yeast infection, she was finally examined by a compassionate family doctor.
Mum-of-two Toni, from Plymouth, Devon, said: “I had pretty much 18 months where every time I went to the GP I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s just thrush. Please’.
“I took everything I could think of and it didn’t work. I believed everything they told me.
“Then I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went to the doctor and said ‘please, just have a look’. If it was thrush, it was the worst I’ve ever had and it wouldn’t go away.
“The vagina had become very sore inside and out.
“It was so uncomfortable at work. I was a chef at the time and also worked in a hot environment. You don’t sleep with it at all.
“I saw a doctor once and she was very nice, she took the time to listen and she tried to cut corners.
“She couldn’t put the swab in there because it was so sore. I was literally red and sore.
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“She took one look and said, ‘I think it’s all over — I think you have cancer.’ It had gotten so much worse.”
Over the next few months, Toni underwent life-changing surgery on her clitoris and perineum to remove cancerous lumps.
Her counselor told her “there was 0.8 mm cancer” on the clitoris.
Toni said: “They either had to take it away completely or shave it. I asked him to take the whole thing away because I didn’t want it coming back but he shaved it off.
“His words were that he left enough for ‘sexual purposes,’ but trust me, that’s the last thing you ever want.
“He also had to cut away part of the urethra, then everything was settled.
Cancer free but still in agony
“My cancer is gone. I shaved most of the clitoris and removed other parts as well which is sore as hell.
“I had a couple of lumps — one near the perineum and one on the other side.”
More than two years after her agonizing surgery, Toni is cancer-free but is now battling an incurable skin condition thought to be lichen sclerosus (LS), which causes itchy white patches on her genitals.
The causes are not known, but are thought to involve previous skin damage in the area and an inadvertent immune system attack on the skin.
The incurable condition also makes sex, urination, bowel movements, and erections a torture.
I have never experienced such pain. You have constant pain in your clitoral hood and it itches like crazy.
Toni now never lets her husband see her vagina anymore and she can’t use the toilet without agony.
She said: “I’ve never let my husband see what it’s like down there, I just can’t.
“We’ve only been married for almost eight years and haven’t been able to have sex for the past four years. There’s just no way. It’s too painful.
“A lot of people don’t know what’s going on with you. You see a happy person, but inside it’s a different story.
“Everyone says ‘Oh you look so good’ but no, far from it. It’s a terrible condition, I can’t explain to anyone what it’s like every day.
“I’ve never experienced pain like this. You have constant pain in your clitoral hood and it itches like crazy.
If you have itching down there and it doesn’t work, please see your doctor. So many people have been pushed away and told it’s thrush.
“The perineum and folds of my legs have also ruptured, it’s terrible to wear trousers.
“It’s just constant, it doesn’t go away. I’m on a cream which helps a bit but it’s burning me.
“I can pull off pieces of skin the size of a 10p piece and it’s an open wound.
“Going to the bathroom is torture. It won’t go away and there are times when it’s worse than ever.”
Toni has not had a confirmed diagnosis of lichen sclerosus as doctors also believe the mysterious condition could also be eczema.
Toni had to give up her job as a cook and struggles with the pain every day.
She hopes that by sharing her deeply personal story, she’ll encourage other women to speak up for themselves at their GP appointments – and warns many will be “pushed away”.
Toni said: “Ever since I first found out I have vulvar cancer and LS I’ve been trying to make more people aware of it. I’ve spoken to many women about this.
“I’ve always said if you have itching down there and it doesn’t work, please see your doctor. So many people have been pushed away and told it’s thrush.
“I can’t work anymore. I volunteer for four hours once a week and come home in agony, I can’t cope.
“I wouldn’t stop doing it, otherwise you just stay inside and don’t do anything.”
Vulva Cancer UK Awareness founder Clare Baumhauer said: “You should check your vulva once a month so you know what your normal reading is.
“If you have persistent vulvar itching, lumps, or sores that won’t heal, see a doctor.”
The 5 Gynecology: The Facts
These are the statistics on the five gynecologic cancers, according to the Lady Garden Foundation:
Cervical cancer: Around 3,100 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year and it is the most common type of cancer in women under the age of 35.
Main symptoms: In most cases, unusual bleeding, which, however, can only be symptom-free in the advanced stage.
ovarian cancer: In the UK, over 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. This makes ovarian cancer the fifth most common type of cancer in women after breast, lung, colon and uterine cancer. More than eight out of ten ovarian cancers occur in women over the age of 50.
Main Symptoms: Difficulty eating and feeling full or sick quickly, enlarged abdomen and persistent gas, an unexplained change in bowel habits, and persistent pelvic and abdominal pain.
vaginal cancer: Vaginal cancer is rare with nearly 260 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year. That’s less than one in 600 cancers diagnosed in women.
Main Symptoms: Vaginal discharge that may smell or be bloody, vaginal pain during sex, unexpected bleeding. persistent vaginal or pelvic pain.
vulvar cancer: Vulvar cancer is a rare cancer. Around 1,200 cases are diagnosed in the UK each year. It is more common in older women and many cases are diagnosed in women aged 65 and older.
Main Symptoms: a lump or swelling on the vulva, persistent itching, pain, or soreness, a mole on the vulva that is changing shape or color, an open sore, or thickened raised or red patches on the vulva.
womb: Cancer of the womb is the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK. In the UK around 8,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, with around 5 in 100 cancers diagnosed in women being cervical cancer. The most common type is the endometrium.
Main Symptoms: Vaginal bleeding, bleeding between periods, vaginal discharge and unusual heavy bleeding
https://www.the-sun.com/health/5532650/clitoris-shaved-off-doctors-dismissed-cancer-thrush/ I had to have part of my privates shaved after doctors dismissed my cancer as thrush