How my story begins: I was working as a Registered Nurse and living life as a female in my early 20s. I never missed my Pap test. I was going more often due to high-risk HPV. During an exam by my GYN in December 2008, she said something looked different compared to my exam 8 months prior and wanted to send me for a second opinion. It turned out the second opinion was a GYN Oncologist who could tell it was cervical cancer right when he took one look. Testing confirmed it - I found out 12/15/08.
How I felt after diagnosis: Alone. Why me? How could this be happening at 25? Did I cause this by carrying HPV?
Telling my family and friends: Honestly, I was hesitant to share my cervical cancer with everyone because of the HPV stigma.
My treatment: Robotic Radical Hysterectomy with Pelvic Lymph Node Dissection & Ovarian Transposition. 28 doses of Pelvic IMRT radiation with concurrent weekly cisplatin (5 dosages)
How I felt after treatment: Numb for a while and empty due to sudden infertility related to my treatments.
What was most difficult for me: Fear of the unknown. Having to make a choice to save my life that caused an inability for me to carry a child.
What I did to help myself: I did a lot of reading and tried to stay busy with projects. Trying to complete our family with a child kept me very busy. I am happy to say that after a long 6-year ride on the infertility rollercoaster, we now have a beautiful son.
My life after cancer: Trying to live each day to the fullest and ignore the what-ifs.
Where I am today: Still 'No Evidence of Disease' for me! I did have an ultrasound in August 2016 for swollen lymph nodes which will be repeated but hoping all is well. Trying not to worry for now. Several months ago, I decided to try to become an advocate!
What I want other women to know: You are never alone. Help is out there - the internet makes it very accessible!
How I will try to help others: I am writing a book on surviving cervical cancer and infertility. I've started the following Instagram accounts: @cervicalcancersurvivor & @infertilitysurvivor to help other women dealing with cervical cancer and infertility.
Any additional information you'd like to share: In addition to helping advocate for infertility and cervical cancer, I also have a couple other passions. I have worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner in Endocrinology since 2010. I am certified as a Certified Diabetic Educator and have my BC-ADM as well. I recently put in my notice at work to allow me to focus more on my passions. Please also check out these free resources I've created and pass them along to anyone that may benefit: www.whatdiabetes.com, "WhatDiabetes" on Pinterest and @whatdiabetes on instagram.