Cancerversary: October 2016

Age at diagnosis: 27

Diagnosis: Adenocarcinoma

Stage of cancer: IB2

How my story begins: Before I was diagnosed, my life was filled with love and happiness. I had just gotten engaged and started planning my dream beachside wedding.

Months leading up to being diagnosed, my now fiancé and I had gone into the doctor due to abnormal abdominal pain and heavy vaginal bleeding that had been going on for almost a year at this point. We had been told that my hormones were shifting due to my age (27 at the time) and that the bleeding before, during, and after sex was normal for females and that there was nothing to worry about. Mind you, 6 months prior I had a negative Pap smear that the doctor told me not to worry about and it would be fine. Two weeks after our engagement, I saw a specialist who told me I had cancer and sent me to an oncologist.

How I felt after diagnosis: We saw the oncologist on a Monday. At this point, the eraser sized lesion that had been discovered on my cervix was now an approximately 4 cm tumor and was unfortunately bleeding out, causing me severe discomfort. The oncologist took a portion for pathology and cauterized the bleeding, then scheduled an outpatient procedure for that Friday. But I didn’t make it to that procedure. By Thursday of the same week, the cauterization has worn off and I was passing severely heavy blood clots and was in more excruciating pain. So the doctor did a direct admit to the hospital and I was rushed off to a small operating room to try and stop the bleeding.

Telling my family and friends: I called my parents and told them over the phone, only for a week later to have them rushing to my side as I was bleeding out and needed to be admitted to the hospital ASAP. I needed to have a blood transfusion and emergency surgery to stop the bleeding.

My treatment: In August of 2017, I begin chemo and radiation. I had 3 rounds of cisplatin instead of 6 as it made me too sick to complete and I had 25 rounds of external radiation and 5 rounds of internal via surgery followed by a complete hysterectomy.

How I felt after treatment: I was very sick for the duration of treatment and continuing on now, 6 months post treatment. I’m sick several times a day and steadily losing weight.

What was most difficult for me: The most difficult part for me was the mental reminder daily that I was strong enough to face this challenge and to continue fighting through the pain and sickness to get better.

What I did to help myself: I read self-help books, listened to cancer survivor podcasts, and found strength and healing in my friends and family.

My life after cancer: I have several doctors' appointments a week. I see my oncologist every 3 months and I am preparing for another surgery for reconstruction purposes due to complications since my hysterectomy.

Where I am today: I went back to working full time, planning a wedding, and being Team Mom for my stepson's football team.

What I want other women to know: I know that annual exams are uncomfortable, but I want women to know that it’s important to have your exams done once a year to rule out cancer or give you a better chance at surviving it with early detection!

How I will try to help others: I will try to help others by sharing my story with other women who may have the same signs, symptoms, or problems as me and lend a listening ear for anyone who needs it.