How my story begins: It started in August of 2013; I kept breaking out in new rashes. I was diagnosed with 4 different types on my body ranging from acute eczema on my inner thighs to hives in different areas, yeast infection between my breasts and a fungus on my foot. My doctor finally said, "We've tried everything. Let's remove your IUD. It's the only foreign thing in your body. It could be the copper."
The day she removed it, the small part of the T with the copper hooked on it broke and embedded in my uterus. This started me on a fun-filled day running to have an ultrasound to find the part and then to a surgeon to have it removed. He had never seen this happen before but assured me they would find it and remove it. Before my scheduled surgery could happen, I started having very bad pain and urinating every 15 minutes. He did an emergency surgery, found the piece with the copper and removed endometriosis. All the rashes went away within a couple weeks.
I was scheduled for a hysterectomy not long after as he thought this would be a good option for me at my age. It was 5 days after my hysterectomy that I went in for a checkup as I was having some really bad cramps. The report had came back saying I had cervical cancer caused by HPV. My doctors were shocked as I have had regular Paps and clean checkups for years. I also had ultrasounds on a polyp every 3 months for the past 2 years down there.
How I felt after diagnosis: Stunned... I kept thinking they made a mistake. My regular doctor called me at home to tell me how sorry she was. She assured me there was no mistake and to do whatever they told me to do.
Telling my family and friends: I told my husband in the parking lot. Telling my kids was hard, as I've never bothered them with health issues before and I can't say I liked being in the spotlight that way. My sisters and friends were great; my husband wasn't as helpful as he could have been. but then not everyone is good at being there emotionally. His family pretty much disappeared; it's amazing the people that show up when the chips are down.
My treatment: I was given 25 radiation treatments and 6 Cisplatins, which I only made 4 out of the 6.
How I felt after treatment: Relieved but lots of anxiety. All of a sudden, you are alone again. No more daily doctor visits and your friends and family go home. It was around the end of year 2 that I finally felt like I own my life again.
What was most difficult for me: The loss of control over what was happening to me. I hated radiation - it gave me anxiety as my mom died from her treatment. She was in her 5th year of fighting lung cancer and they were supposed to be shooting a tumor in her arm and accidentally shot the radiation at the initial sight of the esophagus. She went into hospice not long after. They kept assuring me that times had changed from 10 yrs prior, but it still weighed on me.
What I did to help myself: I started meditation. Yoga breathing really helped to keep my anxiety in control. I refused to take medication for it. There are many foods, supplements and exercises that will help you through without altering your mind.
My life after cancer: Today I put my family and myself first instead of my job. I make more of an effort on friendships and taking time out for trips. I started doing Tai Chi. I was the captain of a 120 mile cancer walk with friends and family and I've learned to stand up for myself as I've been known to be too nice.
Where I am today: Healthy... I have very few issues; I suffered with arthritis and planter fascistic after but seem to have it under control after 2 yrs. I still have some pain during sex and occasional bleeding due to thinning of the walls. I want to say my life is the same but as you know cancer does change you and sometimes for the better.
What I want other women to know: You are not alone, and HPV is nothing to be ashamed of. I wish they would quit calling it a sexually transmitted virus. Nearly everyone has it if they have sex.
How I will try to help others: I post on FB about HPV awareness. I bought 2 CD's from "Someone you love" on cervical cancer. A high school friend was just diagnosed with endometriosis cancer stage 3. She is in a different city so I've reached out to her to help in any way. I'm sending her a care package of the things I thought were comforting while going through treatment.