Cancerversary: October 2016

Age at diagnosis: 30

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: I

How my story begins: This is how my story begins. It had been 8 years since my last visit with an OBGYN. This is around the time when my youngest was born. I despised going. It was WAY out of my comfort zone. Well, almost a year after moving to Colorado, it happened. I was at the store, just getting a few things. My husband and my two children were at the store with me. I remember feeling like I wet my pants. Very unsettling feeling and embarrassing too - until I noticed it was blood. I was hemorrhaging in the middle of the store. I panicked! That night, I went home and the bleeding had settled, but now I was dealing with horrible cramping! The next day, I scheduled an appointment to see a GYN. After a few tests, I found out that there was some abnormal cells and I also found out that I had HPV. This was a little concerning and so more tests were done. Once it was determined that it was "pre-cancer," we went ahead and did a LEEP cone biopsy. My GYN assured me that it wasn't full blown cancer. She had only diagnosed cervical cancer two times in her 30 year career, so she was confident. Less then 12 hours after the LEEP was done, I received the phone call everyone dreads...YOU HAVE CANCER. My GYN was nearly in tears and kept telling me how sorry she was. She referred me to an amazing oncologist. In October of 2016, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Life before my diagnosis: My life before diagnosis, was very active. I had just moved to Colorado from Minnesota. I moved in the winter of 2015, with my two children, my two dogs and of course my husband. I do have an autoimmune disease, so my husband and I were very into our health. We ate healthy and we were very active! I really enjoyed running and hiking! So, because I was so "healthy," I didn't feel the need to visit a GYN. That is where it all began...

How I felt after diagnosis: After my first visit with my oncologist, I found out that I had stage 1b. The tumor size was just shy of stage 2. I remember wondering, "Why is this happening to me? I am only 30 and I live a very healthy lifestyle." It was almost as if I was grieving. I was shocked, then I was extremely angry, and then the tears fell. I learned very quickly that cancer doesn't discriminate. So I faced the truth and put my trust in God that everything was going to be okay. After talking with my Oncologist, we both decided it was best if I went home to Minnesota to spend time with family.

Telling my family and friends: I don't have family here in Colorado, so I had to tell everyone over the phone. Telling my family was very hard. I would start off strong by saying I will fight and win, reminding them not to worry about me. By the end of the conversation, I would be sobbing and most of my family sobbed with me. It was rough, but needed to be done for the love and support that I needed!

My treatment: The treatment started after my trip to Minnesota. We had talked about options, radiation or surgery. So after deciding surgery was best, my doctor explained details about the surgery. I was going to undergo a laparoscopic radical hysterectomy with a pelvic and aortic lymphadenectomy. The surgery went better then planned. They removed all female organs, except for my ovaries. They also removed 29 lymph nodes in the surrounding area (NO CANCER IN LYMPH NODES!)

How I felt after treatment: I felt really good after treatment. There was about 1 week where there was mild pain and weakness. I had a catheter in for 2 weeks, because I didn't have much bladder function. I didn't enjoy that much, but it beats the alternative. I was only taking pain medication for a few weeks. I was up and running again within 6 weeks! After 3 months, I only have minor lymph node issues.

What was most difficult for me: I worked really hard to be healthy, mainly because I needed to control my autoimmune disease. Why was this happening to me? I was only 30 years old. What would happen to my children if they didn't have their mom?

What I did to help myself: I was journaling A LOT! I found that spreading awareness really helped me too. I was learning more and more about cervical cancer and at the same time, I was teaching others! Helping others and spreading awareness really helped me. :)

My life after cancer: I am now helping those struggling with cervical cancer. I started working with Beautycounter, which is a beauty care line that is safe for you and your family. I continue to spread awareness and just try to be positive! There are days when I struggle, but I am happy to be healthy again!

Where I am today: THERE IS LIFE AFTER CANCER!!!! I run almost everyday again! I go on a hike with my family every weekend. I am able to be VERY involved in church again!

What I want other women to know: Cancer doesn't discriminate. Please get in and get checked!

How I will try to help others: While I was healing from surgery, I started " The Blessing Bag." Every year in January, a bag will be filled with joyful things to help a cervical cancer patient. I also spread awareness daily! I don't want anyone to have to hear the words " Sorry, you have cancer." My goal is to prevent the disease from even happening and encouraging all women to get their cervical cancer screening!

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