Cancerversary: June 2015

Age at diagnosis: 25

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: I

How my story begins: My story begins in 2014. My life before the diagnosis was great! I had a loving husband and family, a beautiful country home. a Chocolate lab. I hunted deer and geese, ducks! I was very athletic and loved going to the gym!

In October 2014, I found out that we were expecting. We didn't try that hard. We wanted a baby so bad! I didn't have a feeling about being pregnant all that much, which struck my mother and I a little funny. I wasn't in the mood to buy things, shop, or even start the baby's room. I wanted this so badly and yet I wasn't getting into it like I thought I would. On Christmas Eve Day, when I was 3 months pregnant, I went for an ultrasound and was going to see my baby! Now I was excited!

The short version is that I had a miscarriage. I had to have a D&C to help my body discharge. My doctor, knowing my health and how I took care of myself, wanted answers. So did my husband and I. So three days after we did the D&C and sent the results in for biopsy, my phone rang.

"Mrs. McCowen, you and your husband need to come into the office today, ASAP," she said. I worked right next door conveniently and waited for my husband to get there. We walked in, sat down and heard the news that I had cervical cancer.

How I felt after diagnosis: After the doctor told me, with tears down both of our faces, we started talking about options. Who in their right mind would want to talk to anyone after hearing what we just heard!? But, as faithful Christians, we listened and talked to her about EVERYTHING we could to pause and eliminate the cancer from spreading. A surgery called a LEEP was discussed and planned for the following day.

Telling my family and friends: I called my mom first. She is the strongest person I know. She INSTANTLY asked if she could pray for me. She did, out loud and before telling my dad who was close by. She told him for me. He was on the phone after and I could just tell that they had the same sadness I did. Strong as they were for me, they asked when and where the next step was taking place and started calling all the prayer warriors in our Home Fellowship we attended. I felt better knowing that God had his hand over my situation. With that in my heart I started calling other family members and relayed what I was told. I was so depressed; thoughts of all sorts ran through my mind, things I have never thought I'd think, even in the lowest points. I just had to breathe to get better, and I continued on my journey.

My treatment: The LEEP took place 2 days after the news. It was unsuccessful. A cone was performed, and it too was unsuccessful.

My doctor referred me to a cancer center where one of the top 10 GYN Oncologists worked. Dr. Powell was AWESOME! He wanted to do a more extensive cone. I had the surgery done, stayed overnight and waited at home for the results. Later that week, he told us that it looked like since we have done so many biopsies and took so many samples, that there was a possibility that we may not have enough cervix to bear a child/pregnancy weight. I asked if there was anything we could do. Mind you, I still had cancer and it was going on and on in my mind that it was going to spread. He then suggested that we do a new very intensive surgery called a lymph node removal around the cervix with this new machine that the facility just started using. He said while that happened, he was going to check out how many centimeters I had left on my cervix so he would be able to tell me if child development would be a risk to me or to an infant if I got pregnant, or if that was even possible.

The surgery was performed, 5 half inch stitches from the side of my stomach, through the middle to the other side and I was so sore! My stomach was so bloated and I could barely move. My husband sat by my side the entire time, while everyone I knew had a teal bracelet on. My mom had given out and sent me pictures of everyone supporting me! Messages all over Facebook, texts blowing my phone up and prayers sent out! I got home and took time off work for my recovery. I did well after that, and it was SUCCESSFUL!

At my follow-up, I found out that the cancer was eliminated and my cervix was a perfect size, even after all the crap it went through.

How I felt after treatment: I felt so grateful. Knowing that I could be a mother one day kept me from any negative thinking when I knew that the cancer was gone. I knew my purpose to raise a kid was going to be successful. I knew being God's kid that I just had to keep believing and pretty much saying screw you to anything and anyone who told me I couldn't do this!

What was most difficult for me: I have always been a person to put others first. So what was most difficult for me was watching my husband go through everyday knowing that I was sick, watching him breakdown at some points but hiding it so I would think he was strong for me and bulletproof. It was hard knowing that he married me for a family, and for having the ability to raise a child, and me not knowing if I could give him that...it was my breaking point.

What I did to help myself: I surrounded myself with people who loved me. I stayed clear in my mind that God was my sufficiency. #1 thing... I read about things to do, eat and think about while making my body healthy to fight the cancer as much as it could during this process.

My life after cancer: I kept up on doctor appointments, got back into the gym, and ate tons of veggies - some good some not so good! I kept attending my fellowship with the surrounding people who prayed for me everyday... my rocks, I could say. I spent time in New York with some family friends on a vacation that I very much needed.

Where I am today: Today, I am a stay at home mom! I am sitting here, writing this page while looking at my beautiful son whom I conceived naturally, and had ZERO problems with during pregnancy. My miracle baby, I call him. Such joy to know that my husband and I fulfilled the dream to be parents, stronger ones than I'd ever thought I'd be. My son is 6 months old now. I got pregnant 3 months after I was cleared.

What I want other women to know: Your mind is stronger than your physical strength. If you keep your mind positive, your outcome will be no less than positive!

How I will try to help others: I'm sending this off, hoping that someone can relate. I will attend events, do motivational speeches. I would do anything to be next to someone who just needed to know someone like her just went through this, and could tell her everything is going to be O.K. I have done walks, 5Ks and bought and donated for the cause...and I will continue to do it!

Any additional information you'd like to share: Praise God to our Cervivors! Prayers to Families who have lost but can still fight the fight to help others. Amen.