CLARE Scott had only seconds to process the scene in front of her.

Just one day after celebrating her son Jacob’s 10th birthday, her daughter stood in front of her clutching a small bundle of paper and asking whom it belonged to.

Clare knew then she had a choice: lie or admit the devastating news to her 9-year-old child that, at just 35 years old, she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.

“I had wanted to tell them in my own time but, somehow, she found the wee book they give you when you’re diagnosed, and she wanted to know if it was mine,” the mum-of-two told the Glasgow Times.

Clare’s journey began around six months before her daughter, Chloe, made the discovery.

Despite being on the pill and being entirely up to date with smears, she began to bleed and have period-like symptoms in late 2021.

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When symptoms didn’t clear after two weeks, her GP attempted another smear, which was inconclusive given the bleeding, and bloodwork but she was assured it wouldn’t be anything sinister due to her age.

Between Halloween and Christmas Eve, Clare, from Renfrew, found herself in agonising pain as her bleeding grew heavier prompting her to demand a referral to gynaecology, which was soon scheduled for 2022 – 15 weeks after her appointment.

However, she couldn’t wait that long.

The bleeding became so severe she started to pass clots the size of a hand and had to return home early from her role as a manager within the Scottish Ambulance Service to change her uniform as it became soaked through with blood.

An operation to investigate the situation was brought forward and it was there her worst fears were realised.

She said: “I knew I had cancer before I was diagnosed. My symptoms were textbook, I had done a lot of research, and everything pointed to cancer, but it wasn’t until I woke up that it was confirmed.

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“I could just tell from the way the staff were. They told me not to worry and a plan would be put in place, they were really lovely.

“They said something was found but I’d need to wait for a biopsy, so it was another week before I heard.”

When the call came for Clare to attend the hospital, she wasn’t told to bring anyone along with her – so she didn’t – and, she says, she was in and out within six minutes, handed the book, which was later discovered by Chloe, on her diagnosis of stage three cervical cancer and sent on her way.

Then came the task of telling her parents the news.

“No one should ever watch their child be that ill or hear that they have cancer,” she said.

“My dad actually walked out the house, he just couldn’t take it in. They were both so devasted.”

Clare's oncologist and sister, who is a GP, warned her of what was to come.

The treatment, they said, would “break” her “physically, mentally and emotionally”. It was "medieval torture".

She took several bad reactions, had to move in with her parents and, at one point, her son opted out of visiting her in hospital as it was just too much for him to bear, but she made it.

After six gruelling weeks, Clare was in remission and left alone to combat the world post-cancer.

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“There was really no support, no one took ownership of my care,” she said.

“I just didn’t know where to go and I found it really strange that the person who had to take ownership of it all was me, and I was the one who had been unwell.”

Today, she has a badly damaged bowel and bladder due to the intense treatment she received - a price she is willing to pay to live.

Almost one year into her recovery, Clare is doing all she can to increase awareness of the disease while also living her “selfish year” and throwing her support behind the Don't Fear the Smear campaign.

She said: “I’m doing everything I want to. Spending as much time with my children as possible and doing all the things we missed out on last year, like going on holiday.

“I’m also, honestly, trying to be a bit more selfish and do the things I want to do, say no when I want to. It’s made me a better person, I’m a better manager, a better mum.

“I’ve also got a real bee in my bonnet because I was dismissed, and I had never missed a smear and look what happened to me. You’ve got to get your smears and you’ve got to advocate for yourself.”

An NHSGGC spokesperson apologised for any upset caused to Clare. 

In a statement, they said: "While NHSGGC cannot comment on individual cases for reasons of patient confidentiality, we would like to apologise for any distress this patient feels they have experienced during their treatment pathway.

"The diagnosis and subsequent treatment of any cancer can be stressful for patients but at all times, our clinical staff strive to provide sometimes quite complicated information in as clear a manner as possible and are happy to answer any questions patients may have during their consultations and appointments.

"Patients who receive a cancer diagnosis are given details of a Gynaecology Clinical Nurse specialist to ensure that support is available. As well as this, additional support is available through the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and Macmillan Cancer Support."