How my story begins: I was enjoying a busy new career with the postal service. I was also adjusting to being divorced (happily) with two amazing kids (ages 12 and 5). My life was busy with kids, work, and reconnecting with friends. I felt great and had no idea anything was wrong.
I developed a small discharge in January 2017. For 4 months, I assumed it was a yeast infection. After about a month of an awful smell, I made an appointment with my ob. Later, I received a phone call one day from my ob's nurse and she said I needed to come in for more blood work. I joked when I got off the phone to my friend my vajayjay was broke. A few days later, I went in for what I thought was blood work to find out I needed a biopsy. She said I had HPV 16. I had the vaccine, but it didn't matter. She did a colposcopy and biopsy. I honestly still didn't take it serious. My life was still busy. I thought my feeling tired was from how much I worked. When I went for the results of my biopsy, she read squamous cell carcinoma. I was in shock. I looked at her and said, "I have cancer."
How I felt after diagnosis: I think honestly I was in shock and I was scared. I always knew I wouldn't die though. I was good at putting on a brave face.
Telling my family and friends: I told my boss first and she was amazing. It was so hard telling people, especially my daughter. Her grandfather died from bladder cancer. I had to assure her I wasn't dying. I tried to explain it as best as I could to my son. It was hard to tell my father. I could see the sadness and worry in his face. I didn't want pity from people. Next was my momma and brother. I only told my close knit friends until I found out I needed the hysterectomy. Then I did share on social media.
My treatment: I had my cone biopsy in June 2017. When I went for the results, I already knew it wasn't gone. The smell had came back 2 days after the procedure. I had my hysterectomy on August 22, 2017. I got to keep one ovary.
How I felt after treatment: Relief, anxiety, fear all in one. I think my anxiety was worse after. I'm more keen on my body now. I question everything.
What was most difficult for me: The side effects - they don't tell about you the pain and the ongoing pain.
What I did to help myself: I read a lot and researched the cancer.
My life after cancer: I'm happy. I have a new relationship and he is absolutely amazing. I'm back to working full-time. I enjoy everyday bad or good and appreciate my blessings.
Where I am today: I have nerve damage, but I'm alive! I'll have my one-year check up in August.
What I want other women to know: Get your cervical cancer screening like your supposed to. It's OK to take time out and take care of you. Pay attention to your body.
How I will try to help others: I talk about my HPV 16 and cervical cancer. I'm more open about it. I urge my friends to get their yearly exams.