How my story begins: I decided to get a Pap test and get checked out as I was planning on getting pregnant. I had been getting one done every year if not max every 2 years. I was never tested for HPV. My Pap always came back negative for CIN or anything else.
March 2020 was the first time a gynecologist even thought of co-testing for HPV. She saved my life. The only symptoms I had were light spotting in between periods and occasional discomfort with intercourse so I thought it was all hormonal. I was at work when I received a call that my Pap came back abnormal but the nurse reassured me it was probably not something to worry too much about at the moment until I went in for a biopsy.
Five days later I’m sitting in my office at work in between seeing my own patients when I pick up the phone and my gynecologist was on the other line. I knew at that moment something was wrong. She told me I had adenocarcinoma in situ and CIN3 and I would be referred out to an oncologist.
Life before my diagnosis: I was recently married and was at the stage in my life where I was ready to start a family.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt helpless and hopeless mainly because I wasn’t sure what my diagnosis meant.
Telling my family and friends: The first person I phoned was my husband. I left work immediately and cried all the way home. I then called my sisters and parents. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
My treatment: I initially got a cone biopsy done in May 2020 but the cancer cells were just 1mm away from the margin so my oncologist gave me two options, 1) be conservative or 2) be aggressive.
Conservative would mean monitoring it and try getting pregnant or do a hysterectomy and put this behind me. I chose the total laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral removal of my fallopian tubes, but left my ovaries so I would not enter menopause soon after surgery.
How I felt after treatment: I felt a lot better knowing I had made the right choice for me. My husband was very supportive and told me he would stand behind me no matter what decision I made. Six months after my surgery I decided I to do IVF for when I’m ready again to start a family.
What was most difficult for me: The most difficult was the unknown. Waiting two weeks to see an oncologist was scary. I started to Google and my mind would just race through out the night, thinking of the possible outcomes of my life. I know it’s different for everyone. I would say I am one of the lucky ones that was able to get diagnosed at an earlier stage.
What I did to help myself: I spoke to everyone about my diagnosis. I felt a little embarrassed and felt some sense of guilt prior to informing my self on HPV. I am now comfortable telling my story and I am happy to say because of my experience I now advocate for the HPV vaccine and getting Pap tests done yearly.
My life after cancer: I returned to my life prior to my diagnosis. I no longer let it define me.
Where I am today: I am happy and more grateful. I have been cancer free since May 2020.
What I want other women to know: Be an advocate for your own health. Also, always make decisions that are best for you. Always put your health first. This verse helped me a lot: The Lord is indeed going before you – he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!” Deuteronomy 31:8 NET
How I will try to help others: I will always tell my story. I’ll be happy knowing I can help prevent cancer in some small way for others.
Any additional information you'd like to share: Yes, never lose hope.