How my story begins: I was working on Labor and Delivery as a CNA. I am fun, outgoing and the life of the party. I had finally found the love of my life and was happy!
I had a normal Pap test in November 2015. In August 2016, I started noticing an unusual watery discharge. I thought it had something to do with menopause. I always went for my mammograms and Pap tests. I made an appointment with one of the OB midwifes I work with. When I got to the office, I was almost green. She went over my earlier Pap test results and explained them thoroughly. She then told me I had HPV and explained this to me. We talked for a while. She then said, "Let's just do a Pap since it's getting close to a year." When she started the exam, I could hear concern in her voice. This is someone I knew. I knew her tone and her looks. What she saw scared her. She doctored me and told me let's not jump to conclusions and she scheduled an appointment for a colposcopy two days later.
When I went in for the colposcopy I was greeted by anther OB that we worked with who immediately hugged me and told me that we were gonna get through this together. I know it was bad. The day before was agonizing as I knew it was bad. What they saw was a 5cm tumor on my cervix. It was very visible. I just wanted to know what stage, was it treatable, was I gonna live?
They sent me to the Women's Cancer Center on Wednesday of the following week. I was very thankful for where I worked. Things moved fast because of this. I was able to ask questions and had a wealth of information and knowledge. I was thankful that I had worked in OB and was not embarrassed to say cervix or vagina. It does scare people. When I arrived at the cancer center it became real. Seeing the word cancer was just awful. I staged at a 1b2. And I scheduled for a radical hysterectomy on September 22.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt like it was a bad dream. How did this happen? Did they miss this somehow on my Pap? Why did it grow so fast? Then it was just plan, plan, plan. Have surgery, go back to work and put this behind me.
Telling my family and friends: I think telling my son and my dad were the hardest. My mom had passed away in 2002 from breast cancer. So the "C" word was even scarier for them. I was vocal. I needed to know why their wasn't more education on HPV. I was mad that I worked in OB and didn't know more.
My treatment: I had a radical hysterectomy on September 22. I stayed 13 days in the hospital. I knew right then I was gonna be a hard case. The tumor was bigger than what they had thought and ended up being closer to 8cm. After healing, I started 6 weeks of chemo and radiation.
How I felt after treatment: I thought I would feel happy that the treatments were over and I could go back to normal. Well, this did not happen. I am sad, scared, and terrified. I am trying to learn how to live without the fear of recurrence. I'm not doing so well with that. It's overwhelming to say the least.
What was most difficult for me: I'm trying to figure out what the new normal would (will) be. I am not who I used to be. I really liked her too.
What I did to help myself: I am seeing a therapist. I'm trying to talk about it and trying to get to the other side.
My life after cancer: Just starting haven't figured that out yet......
Where I am today: I'm scared, happy, sad, mad, anxious. I'm waiting on the official all clear and learning how to put myself back together and how to cope with the possibility of recurrence.
What I want other women to know: Listen to your body, get your cervical cancer screenings, and educate yourself on HPV.
How I will try to help others: Educate on HPV, share my story, and try to prevent this from happening to anyone else.