How my story begins: I had been having problems with pains in my lower abdomen for months. Three children and a full-time job left little to no time to worry about what seemed to be minimal problems. Then, the unexplained menstruation happened, which I quickly accredited to stress. My father, my hero who was suffering with Alzheimer's, had since moved in with us, bringing on undo stress with his needs, confused thoughts, etc. As a mom, life continued, putting my self behind the needs of others as all us mothers do.
Finally, a vacation and a moment of rest and relaxation - my wonderful husband had arranged for my sister to come sit with our very ill father and our children. We went away to Jamaica - beautiful, relaxing, no stress, right???? Wrong - the unexplained menstruation had returned and I was passing clots of blood, enough to impact our trip and alarm my husband.
After my father died, my husband started insisting I see a doctor. I went to my gynecologist, went over my issues with her and she began the exam. Two days later, she calls and tells me to go sit somewhere where she can speak with me. I happened to be visiting my father's grave for lunch when she called, so I was alone. She explained I had cancer and needed to see an oncologist immediately. From that point on, my memory fades. I called my husband, explained what she had stated as we sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. I began to weep and explained to him how I needed to make this appointment with the oncologist. I called and made the appointment for Monday. As I sat on my father's grave, every thought quickly became 'what if's?' Why does this doctor want this so quickly? What if this is it for me? How can I have cancer? I feel fine - I'm not sick. I have some pain and bleeding, but it's stress - it's just stress.
I composed myself and returned to work to finish out my day. I spent the majority of my weekend feeling bad for myself and googling this cancer. I spent every moment with my children. I notified those closest to me what I had been told and I cried. I cried a lot but I wasn't sure (I'm still not sure) if I cried for me, for fear, or for my children, but I cried and continued to cry until Monday.
On Monday, I met with Dr. W (my savior). He explained the process to my husband and me and then I had the exam. He said he would meet us in the conference room to discuss the results. The wait for the consult felt like it took hours. The doctor arrived and explained that I had Stage 4 cervical cancer and his plan of action was a radical hysterectomy. My husband and I discussed it - he said he would return with scheduling options. I thought my surgery would be in a month so I would have time to prepare. But his next statement completely changed my life. I would have a life-changing hysterectomy on Wednesday of that same week.
How I felt after diagnosis: Devastated, confused, hurt, scared, fear of the unknown, etc.
My treatment: A radical hysterectomy leaving my ovaries to avoid any further problems.
How I felt after treatment: I immediately wondered if the cancer been completely removed. Fortunately for me, no chemo was needed. I was released to return home and recover from my surgery.
What I did to help myself: I wrote the entire process from the test, scan, the hospital, the visitors, the food - I wrote it all down. I clung to family and friends and my church.
What I want other women to know: Life is busy. As mothers, we all understand that, but take the the time to get your yearly exam. It takes all of an hour out of your life. Imagine taking you completely out of your life because you were too busy to give an hour for yourself. Cancer is hard - the process, the diagnosis, hearing the words - but you can overcome and live a healthy wonderful life. You are powerful and strong and you can do this!