How my story begins: Life was life. I worked full-time to support my family. It wasn't a perfect life, but overall I was happy.
I had my 5th child in October 2015. I was supposed to go back 6 weeks later to check on how I was healing but my midwife couldn't squeeze me in until 2 months out. As my appointment approached, I realized my baby had an appointment the same day so I rescheduled mine, which ended up having to be rescheduled again! Finally, in February 2016, I made it to my "6" week check up. I felt fine other than being tired all the time, so I thought nothing of it. But once my midwife put the speculum in, I knew something was wrong. She told me to lay still and she would be right back. She came in with her supervisor, my lady bits in the air, and then she finally tells me, "you have a growth of some kind on your cervix. You need to go to the specialist and have it biopsied." So two days later, I had a LEEP and the growth was removed.
A week later, I was called into the doctor's office where I got the most devastating news of my entire life! The doctor just came right out and said "It's cancer. We are sending you to an oncologist." My mind went blank after this. The doctor continued to talk, but none of it made sense. My life was spinning out of control. I thought about my kids and how I was going to tell them. My oldest was only 10! I thought about them growing up without me. Who would take care of them? I thought I'd never see them get married or become a grandma.
I went to the oncologist a month later. He did his examination and staged me at stage 1b1. Two weeks later, I was on the operating table.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt dead! I was planning my funeral and making arrangements. I cried a lot and I was depressed.
Telling my family and friends: I only told them what they needed to know. I was embarrassed thinking they would judge me or dismiss my feelings.
My treatment: I had an open abdominal hysterectomy removing my cervix, uterus, pelvic tissue, fallopian tubes, 2 inches of vagina and 48 pelvic lymph nodes. It was a 6 hour surgery.
How I felt after treatment: It was a rough surgery to recover from I was in a lot of pain and the worst part is I wasn't able to hold my baby who was just 6 months old. I was tired, in pain and scared, waiting to find out if more treatment was required.
What was most difficult for me: Having to tell my kids and husband and trying to remain strong for them.
What I did to help myself: I kept busy. It helped to keep my mind off things. I also spent a lot of quality time with my family.
My life after cancer: It all happened so fast from diagnosis to treatment. I haven't fully processed everything, but I'm trying to get back to a new norm.
Where I am today: I went back to the oncologist on April 4th, 2016 and that's when I was told I am cancer free!
What I want other women to know: You can prevent this cancer! Please vaccinate your children. You don't wanna watch them endure the pain I did knowing it all could of been prevented.
How I will try to help others: Spreading the word about cervical cancer and HPV; also talking about the HPV vaccination.