How my story begins: My life before diagnosis was that of a typical working mom of three. My husband and I have been married since 1992. We were busy doing what most couples with children do. With three kids involved in sports, we were constantly running. Our kids are ages 21, 18, and 14. There was always somewhere to be or something that had to be done. We were enjoying the hustle and bustle of trying to balance our jobs, kids, and just life in general.
In August of 2016, I went for my Pap test, but I had my period and it was heavy. So instead, I just met with the doctor. My period had been getting heavier and each month leading up to my cycle, I would get an itchy sensation from head to toe. My doctor thought maybe it was hormonal (family history of early menopause and ovarian cancer). He put me on birth control pills for the hormones and said come back in a few weeks and we will do the Pap test. I had always had good results on my Paps and I was guilty of not getting them for a period of time after my third child was born. A week later, I was in the office getting a biopsy. My doctor still felt it was not going to come back as anything other than maybe HPV. From there, the whirlwind began. I then was referred to the oncologist and my life with cancer began.
How I felt after diagnosis: I was in complete shock. I had no symptoms that I really noticed. My mom passed away from ovarian cancer in 2012, so I was more concerned about getting that since it is hereditary. Once the shock wore off, I was ready to fight.
Telling my family and friends: Of course, my husband was the first person I told. I was standing in a field watching my kids run at a cross country meet when my phone rang. I walked away so that I could hear what my doctor had to say. My husband was near by and I struggled to keep it together. The doctor wanted to see me the next day. I immediately called my sister who is a nurse and asked her to go with me to talk to him. After we got the final results, we sat our children down and told them. I then proceeded to tell those closest to me. I would like to say that some were easier to tell than other, but I would be lying. Some I called personally because I wanted them to hear it directly from me. Some I texted because I knew that if I told them face to face, we would be a babbling mess.
My treatment: My treatment consisted of radiation in conjunction with chemotherapy, followed by brachytherapy.
How I felt after treatment: After treatment was very hard. Waiting to have the tests run to see if all of the treatment worked was torture.
What was most difficult for me: Most difficult for me was letting everyone help me. I am usually the one helping others. It really humbled me.
What I did to help myself: I learned to let people help me. I also learned to listen to my body. If I was tired, I had to rest and not push it. I worked through my whole treatment with the exception of chemo days. I think it helped me to keep busy. I couldn't do as much as I had always done, and there were things I had to give up. Overall, I felt that keeping busy and working helped me to heal quicker and to face life head on.
My life after cancer: I am still learning what life after cancer is like. I am learning what the new me really is. I try not to be paranoid, but sometimes its hard. I do feel cancer has taught some hard lessons. I think it also gave my children courage to be who they are and to look at life a bit differently than others. We have never hid anything from them and I think that seeing what I went through will make them stronger people.
Where I am today: Today, I am newly cancer free. I got my results from my first Pap test post treatment in May of 2017. I was elated that it was clear. I still struggle with some side effects from the treatment. I feel stronger and better everyday.
What I want other women to know: I want other women to know that they are not alone. I also want them to know to talk about it. I sometimes probably tell too much to people when they ask me. I learned so much about cervical cancer and I think talking helps.
How I will try to help others: So many people helped me in ways that I can't describe. I will give back anytime I have the opportunity.