Cancerversary: September

Age at diagnosis: 37

Diagnosis: Squamous cell carcinoma

Stage of cancer: III

Cervivor School Graduation: 2022

How my story begins: I had not done a Pap test since 2011. So when I realized that I had a discharge that was not going away for months - even after taking antibiotics - I decided that the next best thing would be to go get the Pap done. When my doctor said that we would have to do a biopsy, I knew then that I needed to prepare to go to war.

Life before my diagnosis: I was a very helpful hardworking single mother of two.

How I felt after diagnosis: When the doctor confirmed cervical cancer, I was ready to fight, I went straight into survival mode. I was not prepared for what was to come though.

Telling my family and friends: This was the hardest part. I lost both my parents to cancer, so telling my family that their baby sister was now diagnosed with cancer was not easy. Some (family and friends) were in denial, others wanted to start planning for my funeral and the rest were ready to fight with and for me.

My treatment: I underwent 32 rounds of external radiation, 6 rounds of brachytherapy and 6 sessions of chemotherapy (Cisplatin). During my treatments I also did genetic testing which turned out positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation. So I had laparoscopic surgery to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes. That was followed by 4 more sessions of chemotherapy (Taxol and Carboplatin).

How I felt after treatment: I fell into depression. I could not sleep, my taste buds were gone and I just did not want to see or speak to anyone. And then I got the coronavirus...

What was most difficult for me: Knowing and acknowledging that cancer will always be part of my life - from the long lasting side effects to the constant fear of reoccurrence.

What I did to help myself: I forced myself to remain strong and positive throughout. I journaled and joined as many support groups that I could find. I am also trying to take better care of myself physically.

My life after cancer: Healing is a very slow process. Coming to terms with all that my body went through will take some time.

Where I am today: I am now getting ready to have preventative surgery (double mastectomy). I am unsure of what this will do to me emotionally but I am trying to remain very positive.

What I want other women to know: That you are not alone. We are all in this together.

How I will try to help others: I want to tell my story and to educate women about HPV and the importance of the Pap test. I want to do my part to help spread awareness.