Cancerversary: September 2016

Age at diagnosis: 35

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: I

How my story begins: I am a wife of 11 years and a mother of 2. We as a family were walking 3 miles a day. I waited tables for Cracker Barrel. I love my life.

In December 2015, I felt something was wrong with me. I started having a "discharge" - clear liquid, no odor - just like water leaking out of me nonstop. There was no bleeding or cramping, just the water. Two months went by and it got worse. So i made an appointment. On Feb 16th, 2016, I went in and cried to the doctor and told her my worst fears. I could tell she thought i was fine too until she did the exam. Blood started pouring out of me. All over the floor and all over the doctor. She had me get dressed and she came back into the room and confirmed my worst fears. She saw a lesion on my cervix. She wasn't able to do the pelvic exam because of the blood.

She then sent me to another doctor who managed to stop the bleeding and get a biopsy. I had to wait. Three days later, on Feb. 19th, he called me to officially confirm that I had cervical cancer. He set me up with an oncologist at MUSC where we discussed my options for treatment - chemo/radiation vs. surgery. My PET scan came back with lymph node involvement. So chemo and radiation it was.

How I felt after diagnosis: I was scared. I thought I was going to die. I wondered who would care for my children. I wondered if my husband would remarry.

Telling my family and friends: I told my mom first. Then it just kind of came out to everyone. It was hard, especially hard for the friends that I lost along the way because they couldn't handle me being sick.

My treatment: 25 external radiation, 5 Chemo and 4 internal radiation. They had me on cisplatin and then changed it to carboplatin because I was so sick. They decided to place me in the outback trial of carbo/taxol and I lost all my hair. On sept 13th, i had another PET scan and was given the good news.

How I felt after treatment: I still get nauseated. I have heel spurs. I can't see well. My kidneys hurt and my chest hurts. I gained 40 lbs.

What was most difficult for me: Not working. I hated sitting home sick all the time, worrying if i was going to die.

What I did to help myself: Prayed a lot and binge watched Netflix (lol)

My life after cancer: I'm still tired, fighting off the effects of the chemo and radiation.

Where I am today: I tried to go back to work, but waiting tables was just too much for me at the moment. I have applied for disability. My husband and i have barely made it financially this year. If it weren't for our church and a few friends and family, we would probably be homeless.

What I want other women to know: Even though annual check-ups are annoying and uncomfortable, they can save your life.

How I will try to help others: When I get back on my feet, I want to speak about what I have been through. I want to volunteer at the cancer center where I received treatment and I always tell my friends and family the importance of Pap tests!

Any additional information you'd like to share: Cancer doesn't mean death. It's just a diagnosis. You can beat it!