Cancerversary: October 2007

Age at diagnosis: 45

Diagnosis: Squamous cell carcinoma

Stage of cancer: IB2

How my story begins: My life before diagnosis was normal. I was raising 2 kids, working full time, had 1 grand child, and married 26 years.

I had normal Paps for years. I was in a monogamous relationship, so I stopped having Paps. Fifteen years later, I started having some blood during intercourse. I thought maybe it was from being a little too rough. I went to have an exam and was bluntly told I had cervical cancer. I was scheduled to see a gynecological oncologist 2 days later. It was the best move I ever made. I love and trust Dr. Mark Reedy with more than my life.

How I felt after diagnosis: I felt dirty and ashamed, as if either I or my husband had done something wrong. We had been married 27 years and were completely and totally in love with each other. This placed unfounded doubts especially from others. I felt as though we were being judged by others. And believe me - we were questioned, not only from our friends but also from the medical profession.

Telling my family and friends: My mother had recently died from lung cancer. My Dad made the comment that you don't ever get over cancer. I knew he was projecting what happened to her onto me but it wasn't fair. I was fighting as hard as she did and was praying hard for a different outcome.

My treatment: 25 rounds of external radiation, 6 rounds of Cisplatin, and 52 hours of internal radiation.

How I felt after treatment: The internal radiation was the worst. The cancer ward treated me like I had leprosy. There was 3 day old food, puke in the trash, you name it, it was there. I was so relieved when I finally was released to go home.

What was most difficult for me: Living with the stigma of having a life changing illness that was "sexually transmitted."

What I did to help myself: I trusted in God and my oncologist and continued to believe in myself, in my husband, and our relationship. Without any of these, I am nothing.

My life after cancer: A gift

Where I am today: I am in a better place both physically and spiritually.

What I want other women to know: They are stronger than they know.

How I will try to help others: I am a nurse so I use my personal experience as a teaching experience.