How my story begins: My story begins on July 27, 2009, which was a month after losing the beautiful actress Farrah Fawcett who had just died in June from anal cancer, and I was devastated. When the doctor told me I had cancer, all I could hear was the word cancer and I left his office alone and in a blur.
Life before my diagnosis: Life before my diagnosis was good. I was so excited to turn fifty, and I was still here by His grace.
How I felt after diagnosis: I had many emotions but since there was not much known about anal cancer, I immediately felt shame that this had to be my fault, just like HIV, I was paying for my sins. It was a wake-up call for sure.
Telling my family and friends: I for one didn't have a stigma talking about my diagnosis mainly because I was surprised, and the other reason was I was trying to make sense of it all.
My treatment: When I was treated for anal cancer in 2009, I started radiation in October of that year. There were multiple visits a week and it became painful after third of fourth radiation treatment. I had to wear Depends briefs and learned about sitz baths. At first, I was even given a certificate after I finished. My chemotherapy was provided over several weekends about a month after radiation treatment began. This was done in hospital after being admitted and given IV drips of chemotherapy agents. This was due in part as a regimen to treat the anal cancer and the Hodgkin lymphoma. It worked but made me miserable the whole time and days afterwards.
How I felt after treatment: After my treatment, I still felt baffled. It was not knowing about this cancer that was the worst for me and knowing we lost this fantastic actress to this cancer didn't help either. And for me, a lot of shame happened because I have always had a stigma when it came to me being gay so of course in my mind, this was all my fault.
What was most difficult for me: Knowing now that this is cancer that comes from sex, and along with me having HIV, then I was really a mess because maybe the Lord was trying to tell me something I felt mainly shame.
What I did to help myself: What I did to help myself was I got more information and I realized that anal cancer didn't care about gender and there was more to this cancer than meets the eye, and I was so anxious to know more.
My life after cancer: My life after cancer was more than I thought it would be because I did not want my colostomy bag, and didn't understand how I got here. The first few months were hard, but the fact that this colostomy bag was permanent I had no choice but to accept were I was and thank the Lord that I still was alive.
Where I am today: Where I am today is I finally got to the acceptance phase and now I'm using my time to continue to raise much needed awareness for anal cancer and how the HPV virus plays its part in causing cancer.
What I want other women to know: They rule the world.
How I will try to help others: I will try my best to help others by continuing to share my story.
Any additional information you'd like to share: I'm passionate about giving back and I want to use this platform for good.