Cancerversary: November 2014

Age at diagnosis: 28

Diagnosis: Squamous cell carcinoma

Stage of cancer: III

How my story begins: I'm a single mother of two little girls, a Zumba instructor, a college student studying to be a Physical Therapy assistant, and I'm also very involved in ministry.

I started knowing something was wrong about a year before I was diagnosed. I got so bad I couldn't sleep due to rectal pain and flank pain. My gynecologist missed my 2 and a half inch tumor. I finally went to the ER after not being able to sleep from the rectal pain. A day later, I saw a gyn oncologist. I was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer after a PET scan. My whole world fell apart.

How I felt after diagnosis: I was numb, devastated, and angry with God. I had just gotten saved a few years prior and fought hard to change and make a better life for my girls. I was praying for a husband and had so much hope. Then to find out I had cancer, and it have it be stage three! I watched my father go through treatment for lung cancer. The treatment killed the cancer then eventually killed him. So I was scared of treatment, and putting all the different chemicals in my body, especially considering I was eating extremely healthy and working out.

Telling my family and friends: This was tough. My brother was the first person I called. I was scared because we had just lost my dad two years prior. My mother was very upset. My brother said to me, "If anyone can beat this, you can." He is an AMAZING man. Some of my friends cried when I told them, some were angry, and shocked because I am young.

My treatment: On July 14th of 2014, I started cisplatin and radiation. I did 6 rounds of chemo, 25 rounds of radiation, and 5 rounds of internal radiation. I was miserable at first because my tumor was blocking my left ureter. It was causing lots of flank pain, pushing on my rectum, which was the worst pain ever! I took pain medications a lot. I was weak from my kidney being inflamed. I also had a stent in place. After a few treatments, the rectal pain went away - thank God. I got very, very sick and had at least three or four blood transfusions, many magnesium fluids, and hospitalization from dehydration.

How I felt after treatment: I was glad it was over, but I was still very weak and sick.

What was most difficult for me: Nausea was the worst - also the weak feeling when you are dehydrated and anemic.

What I did to help myself: During treatment, I did leg lifts and walked around the house to get moving a little, which was very difficult. After treatment, I started walking halfway up the street and back. Slowly, I regained energy and strength. Then I started to do a little zumba - bits of a song, until I worked up to ten songs in an hour. This was extremely difficult. I taught zumba fitness at my church and a fitness center in my hometown until my kidneys gave me trouble. I also went back to school two months after treatment. And did a 16 week Livestrong program, which was absolutely amazing!!

My life after cancer: I am going through menopause.
I have stage three chronic kidney disease.
I have a stricture in my right ureter and a stent in place.
I need reconstruction surgery on my ureter/bladder.
I also have radiation colitis.
I have gone through some bouts of depression and anxiety.
But I am never going to stop fighting.

Where I am today: I'm going back to school this semester. School has been rough with everything going on. I'm afraid I've lost my financial aid. I feel a little lost because I didn't get into the PT program. Cancer just messed things up for me. Now I don't know what I want to be. But I have to graduate with some sort of degree!! My goal is to have my reconstruction surgery next June and be close to graduating!

What I want other women to know: You know your body and when something is wrong. Never wait. Always get it checked out. Be kind but assertive, and always trust your gut.

How I will try to help others: As much awareness as I can. I wish I could start a ministry in the KC area to help women. That is my dream. ❤

Any additional information you'd like to share: Advocate for the HPV vaccine. My 11 yr old has already had hers. Advocate for HPV awareness and cervical cancer.