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'I survived cervical cancer - but I live with its devastating aftermath'

At age 29 and pregnant, Anne Nally-Keenan was diagnosed with cervical cancer, writes Liadan Hynes. Her heartbreak at being left infertile by the disease was compounded by learning she had received incorrect smear test results

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Anne Nally-Keenan pictured at her home in Co Westmeath. Photo: Kevin Mc Nulty

Anne Nally-Keenan pictured at her home in Co Westmeath. Photo: Kevin Mc Nulty

Kevin Mc Nulty

Anne pictured with her son, Colin

Anne pictured with her son, Colin

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Anne Nally-Keenan pictured at her home in Co Westmeath. Photo: Kevin Mc Nulty

From early on in her pregnancy, Anne Nally-Keenan knew something was wrong. "It was very turbulent, I was haemorrhaging weekly," she says now. "But every time we thought something was wrong, we got the green light, were told 'you're fine, you're being an over-reactive first-time parent. Enjoy your pregnancy'."

At week 29, Anne, then herself aged 29, was diagnosed with stage 1, B2 cervical cancer. "So all my concerns just weren't listened to. I had a seven-centimetre tumour."

Because of her pregnancy, the tumour was growing rapidly. "I don't think words could describe how upset we were. The main thing was 'is our baby going to be OK?'" Anne and her husband, Jonathan, were told they would not be able to have more children. "That knocked us more than anything else at the time," Anne recalls now.