How my cancer story begins: In 2008, after a routine Pap smear, my nurse practitioner said that I needed to make an appointment for a colposcopy. After the colposcopy, the gynecologist told me that I had adenocarcinoma in situ. In other words, I had pre-cancerous cells on my cervix. I was told that I needed to have a LEEP procedure. I had the LEEP procedure, which was very uncomfortable to say the least. My doctor did his best to preserve as much of my cervix as possible since I did not have children yet. I was 35 years old.
The next few years: After that, I had to have Pap tests more often to make sure that everything was clear. Late 2009, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy with no complications at all. Then, in 2011, I was laid off from my job. I had to switch insurance plans and since my husband was having a tough year at work (he’s in construction), we let our insurance lapse and I missed my regularly scheduled Pap test. I finally went in the fall of 2012 to see a gynecologist. After the Pap, she again wanted me to have a colposcopy. I had a lot going on at the time. My mother-in-law had just passed and I had to find someone to watch my son. So I didn’t go back for the colposcopy until fall of 2013. After the colposcopy, I was referred to a gynecologic oncologist. At that appointment, I was told that I had stage IIA cervical cancer.
My treatment: At first, I was told I needed a hysterectomy. Upon further examination, I was told that a hysterectomy was no longer an option. I had to have chemotherapy and external and internal radiation.
My fear of treatment: I was in a new job and I was very afraid of treatment. So, I decided to try alternatives, like raw foods and supplements. One day, my doctor checked in to see if I wanted to start treatment, but I told her that I did not want to start treatment at that time. I then received an email from the social worker saying that she spoke with my doctor and that I would die and leave my son without a mother if I didn’t have treatment. I was very upset. In very nice way, I let the social worker know how I felt. Then, the doctor called me. I told her that I would have liked her to say that she would monitor me instead of trying to push treatment on me before I was ready. So, she offered to monitor me. Each time, she would say that she was concerned that the tumor was growing. After 3 months, I decided to start treatment out of pure fear.
Difficulty during my treatment: I had the treatment, but I was not ready for it mentally or emotionally. I felt all alone. I pushed my husband away because he told someone what was going on after I told him not too. So, I went through treatment very angry. My mom came to help. Every Monday, I would get chemo and be at work the next day. I could barely eat, because I was nauseous and afraid that I would throw up at work. I kept working until I couldn’t. In the end, they said that my treatment went well.
What is most difficult for me: I think that the most difficult part for me is the guilt. I feel like it’s my fault. I feel like I should have made sure that I went to all my appointments no matter what. It was just a hard time.
My life today: I’m just getting to a better place within the last few months. I’m taking care of my body, meditating every day. I’ve lost 85lbs since the beginning of the year. I’ve been going to all my follow-up appointments, but I had to switch doctors for various reasons. There is a possibility that I have cancerous cells on a lymph node near my aorta now and they are monitoring me for that.
I know that I need to do more though. I need to talk about this experience and I need to help others. I just know that I was not mentally or emotionally prepared for this experience and I needed support from others that went through it. I’m seeking knowledge and support. I’m very nervous about it, but I would like to start a support group for women with cervical cancer and I would like to gather women to do more outreach. There are plenty of groups for breast cancer or ovarian, but not much for cervical cancer.