Location: Virginia

Cancerversary: November 2021

Age at diagnosis: 35

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: III

How my story begins: My period started on Christmas Eve 2020 and it Never. Stopped. I made an appointment with my GYN office and they were able to see me the next week. At my first appointment, the nurse practitioner told me it was probably stress. At my next appointment the doctor put me on birth control and within a week things were much worse!

I went to the ER on St. Patrick’s Day because I was bleeding so so badly and heavily. There was nothing they could do for me, and my next doctors appointment was a week later. This was the appt where they did the FIRST EXAM. Did I mention I hadn’t been to the GYN in 10 years? I did tell my doctors that up front (so embarrassing). The doctor couldn’t do an exam and sent me to the operating room at the hospital. They found the tumor, and that night I was transferred to another hospital and a specialist diagnosed me with stage III cervical cancer. Turns out it wasn’t stress.

Life before my diagnosis: I loved working out, hiking, taking trips with my two kids and husband! I was very active in all aspects of my life. I work as a counselor for adults with special needs -- and it’s not fair to call it “work” as it’s a gift to be there each day!

How I felt after diagnosis: I knew I could beat it! I just knew there was no other option. I have a husband, a 15 yr old and a 12 yr old and I had so much more life to live.

Telling my family and friends: There was much crying, tears, sadness but also so much hope.

My treatment: Six weeks of chemo
56 external radiation treatments
Four internal radiation treatments
One drainage tube procedure for an abscess
Laparoscopic procedure for abscess
15+ blood transfusions
Two separate week long hospital stays

How I felt after treatment: I went weeks without eating anything more than a small cup of Jello and would take me a week to drink a bottle of water. I threw up all day, everyday. Sunday was my good day because I was far enough away from chemo treatment so we went to the buffet on these good days!

What was most difficult for me: Missing my kids activities was so hard. I missed a soccer championship game and a cheer competition.

What I did to help myself: Is this taboo? I smoked weed. IT HELPED ME IMMENSELY and I wish I had known about it sooner in my treatment! I could eat, sleep, there was no nausea and I felt human and alive.

My life after cancer: I am ready to travel and I have so many trips already booked! I am not missing one more minute of life.

Where I am today: I feel better every single day. I’m getting stronger. I’m able to workout again and I gained back my weight. I’m even back at work which feels great!

What I want other women to know: Please stay current on your cervical screenings. I didn’t know to ask for a pap (and HPV co-test)! I wish there was better information because all too often we trust our doctors to make the best decisions and didn't know what to ask for.

How I will try to help others: I am willing to tell my story to anyone! I think sharing my story will help others.

Any additional information you'd like to share: My family and friends held a fun run for me to assist with medical bills! They will continue the fun run in my honor, and the proceeds will go to a cervical cancer group.