Farm trader Louise Clark, now aged 28, was sitting at her desk on what she thought was an average Friday afternoon when her life was about to change forever.
Resting her chin in her right hand, she felt a lump in her neck. Certain it would be nothing serious and keen to draw a line under it, Louise made an appointment to see her GP that afternoon. Despite the doctor being sure it was just a harmless cyst, relating to a hormone imbalance, he booked her in for a blood test to be sure.
Louise felt fine in herself and wasn’t experiencing any other symptoms, which reinforced the GP’s diagnosis that it must be a benign lump, although he confirmed that he couldn’t rule out cancer.
“Cancer. That was all I could think about from that moment on. So when the test revealed no abnormalities indicating it was not a hormone problem, my world fell apart and I was sent for a scan. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, I had to attend the ultrasound without my fiance, which was extremely traumatic and left me hysterical on hearing it was a nodule but that the sonographer couldn’t tell me anything more,” said Louise.
“Next on the rollercoaster was a procedure called a fine needle aspiration to take some fluid from the lump for testing, which involved a two week wait plus a further two weeks of putting my life on hold awaiting the result. Again, the consultant was adamant that it was very unlikely to be cancer and even if it was, thyroid cancer was treatable in most cases.”
Unlucky for some, Louise’s phone rang on Friday 13th November. It was the GP with good news - it was a benign lump. Ecstatic that this horrid experience was over, she and her fiancé celebrated with a Covid-friendly kitchen disco of dance music and prosecco!
However, on Tuesday morning, another not so welcome call came. “We’d like to remove the lump as a precaution,” the voice said. Knocked for six, it felt like another bad dream that Louise couldn’t quite take in. By 30th December, she was in hospital, alone, having half her thyroid removed. The operation went well and she returned home late the following day feeling extremely sore and emotional and with staples across her neck - what a new year’s eve that was!
Still without a diagnosis, Louise entered 2021 not knowing her fate. Terrified and consumed with worry about the worse case scenario and thinking she may never marry and grow old with the love of her life, she suffered from anxiety and started taking medication from her GP to help.
Louise said: “Although what I’d been through was awful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, waiting for a diagnosis was by far the hardest part. I didn’t know if I’d need another operation or what was going to happen to me. I’d always been so optimistic about life, but this really changed me - I began living in dread of what might be.
“Another long wait, this time made worse by the fact that the results were in, but they wouldn't tell me as my consultant was away for two weeks. This time, they encouraged me to bring someone with me, so I knew it must be cancer. Confirming my intuition, I found out I’d had two cancerous lumps - one that was 4mm and another measuring 1cm - which were both follicular. Apparently this made me lucky, as that’s the treatable kind in women my age. Somehow, I’m still struggling to feel very lucky about having cancer.”
“In all the trauma, I’d practically forgotten my lifeline - I’d taken out critical illness cover in June 2020 after seeing adverts online. I’d recently been given life insurance through work, which I thought was great, but was still worried about how I’d support myself if I became ill. We’d recently taken out a mortgage and were saving to get married, plus I was conscious of paying a two year debt off and didn’t want to burden anyone, so I decided to investigate.
“First filling in a form online, then speaking on the phone to Caspian Insurance - a life insurance and critical illness cover broker, finding my policy was really quick and easy. As my health history was completely clear, it was very straightforward, and in under an hour, I was matched with a policy by AIG. For £13 a month, I would receive a payout of my full salary if I was to become seriously ill.
“I honestly thought it wouldn’t happen to me - I was so young and healthy - but being a sensible soul, I knew I wouldn't miss the £13 a month, but would be eternally grateful of the payout should I ever need it.
“The money has meant so much - it’s offered peace of mind as well as allowing us to get married! We didn’t think the wedding would happen for ages with Covid and saving up, so we’re still pinching ourselves that we’re now officially Mr and Mrs Clark.”
“Caspian Insurance has been truly amazing to me - they’ve really gone the extra mile. From sending flowers after I reported my diagnosis to delivering a bottle of Champagne on my wedding day, they’ve been so kind and thoughtful at what’s been a super difficult time. Plus, the money came through really quickly - I thought it would take ages, but they helped to ensure it was in my account in four working days after my claim was approved."
Louise and her beau Elliott had a small reception for close family and friends in their garden. While Covid meant it was a smaller wedding than they’d originally planned, it was perfect.
“Having a small wedding was absolutely amazing - we got to celebrate with our closest family and friends and while we could have really blown the budget thanks to the insurance money, my cautious side is thankful that we have funds leftover to do other things on our bucket list, too.”
Emily Behan, director of people at Caspian Insurance, said: “Louise has been so brave throughout this whole experience and we’re so glad that she’s had the outcome she has. Sadly, you never know what life is going to throw at you, so being prepared with life insurance and critical illness cover from as young as your twenties is the safest way to ensure you and your loved ones will be provided for if or when something bad happens.”