How my story begins: 2020 has been one of the worst years of my life! I turned 40 (haha!) in January and then we headed into Covid lockdown in March. My wedding was cancelled in May (due to Covid) and then I was diagnosed with Stage 2B cervical cancer in August. I had no idea about cervical cancer as up until then, I was a healthy girl! I'd had no clue that I could get this and even more so through HPV!
How I felt after diagnosis: I was shock and scared!
Telling my family and friends: It was so hard! I cried for an entire day before I shared the news with my immediate family. I didn't know what to say or how to say it... except that I knew that they had to know. Once I shared the news, the support and love was UNREAL! Everyone wanted to hug me (damn Covid!) and wanted to reach out and do anything to help me. I'm so grateful for all of my family and friends.
My treatment: I did 25 external radiation therapy sessions combined with 5 chemotherapy sessions (Cisplastin). I also had 3 internal radiation/brachytherapy sessions.
How I felt after treatment: I was lucky that I was prescribed the right "party-mix" of medication to assist me with the chemotherapy side affects. I didn't have any nausea and felt okay after each session. However, the radiation therapy knocked me out! I was exhausted and fatigued as the sessions continued. Brachytherapy was just unreal and I felt so awful after each one.
What was most difficult for me: Most difficult was having to tell my four year old in terms that he understands that mommy was sick -- because at his age he couldn't really comprehend. Additionally, I stopped working. I love what I do and I was trying my best to work throughout treatment. However, I had no choice to take a leave of absence because my body couldn't take it and I needed to take the time to heal.
What I did to help myself: I used the great resources at the Tom Baker Centre for counseling services to help me mentally as well as they gave me resources to help my young son understand what I was going through.
Where I am today: Unfortunately I am not cancer free as they recently (Feb 2021) located a small mass in my iliac lymph nodes. I will be going through a second round of both radiation and chemotherapy treatment in the upcoming weeks. Follow my blog as I continue to my cancer journey! https://graciescancerjourney.wordpress.com/
What I want other women to know: Cervical cancer is preventable through screening!
How I will try to help others: I will share my story, be an advocate for ladies to get checked-up (do their Paps!) as well as spread the knowledge about HPV for young girls.
Any additional information you'd like to share: I'm keeping a blog about my cancer journey that I invite you to read: https://graciescancerjourney.wordpress.com/