Location: Florida

Cancerversary: October 2021

Age at diagnosis: 42

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: IV

How my story begins: My story starts around lockdown in March of 2020. My uncle passed away 3 days prior to Florida closing down. I ended up moving in with my cousin to help with their kids. I'm bringing this up because I've never had kids therefore, they took up so much of my time that I didn't pay attention to my own needs.

Fast forward to February 2021, and I found myself "GUSHING" blood out of nowhere. During this time, I was flying back and forth from Illinois to Florida, helping with my family estates. My grandmother had passed in May and my aunt's mom passed around the same time. Therefore, I was flying back and forth whenever someone needed me.

By this point I was eating a bottle of Ibuprofen every 3/4 days. Three different times, in between flying, I had some sort of GYN appointment. All three times all I heard was, "Welcome to the club.", aka menopause. I had two different ultrasounds and both came back clear. I knew they were wrong and something was going on since no other woman I know "gushed" prior to menopause.

In October 2021, everything finally came to an end. Both estates were sold and it was time for me to get back to work. I had 24 HOURS! The next day I stopped at a friend's house seeking Ibuprofen. By this point I was eating a bottle every 2 days. Anyway, my friends took my purse and forced me to the ER.

Seven hours later, this wonderful lady decided to go in one las time and *POOF! I gushed so much blood that all I can remember was her saying, 'Welcome to Blake Hospital.". After my biopsy, the doctor told me I had cervical cancer. Dr. Lingamurthy and I have been together for almost three years now. All I can remember were the nurses semi-dressed up for Halloween so I consider Halloween 2021 my "anniversary.

Life before my diagnosis: You mean there was life prior to COVID and CANCER??!!

I remember being adventurous! I loved running events and working with bands like Warrant, Berlin, Psychedelic Furs and many others. I have a Bachelors in Hospitality and had the privilege of studying abroad in Costa Rica. I have a passion for HISTORY and loved driving the back roads cross country.

How I felt after diagnosis: First feeling was emptiness.. nothing more, nothing less.

Telling my family and friends: My mom was the first to know. Matter of fact, my stepdad had her on the first flight out of Illinois. I had people who needed to hear it from me and not on Facebook. Plus, I knew certain people would spread the word. The first social media post was on my high school class page. We are a close class and I needed their support. I wanted/needed my world to know. I needed my friends!! I am an only child so my friends are my life.

My life came to a halt and to be honest, everything went out the door as soon as I found out. I mentioned before that I moved in with my cousin during lockdown. So, by this point, my mother had to rent a condo for us. On Thanksgiving, I asked a good friend of mine (sort of as a joke) if she would move in with her boyfriend so my mom and I could move into her house, pay rent and take care of her two rescue dogs (their owner died during lockdown and she saved them from a kill shelter). They thought it was a great idea and mom and I moved in just before Christmas.

My treatment: I got lucky that my diagnosis came during insurance open enrollment. I had just lost my insurance over the summer. So as the great insurance game works, I didn't start till after January 1, 2022. Fifteen rounds of radiation, 8 weeks of chemo, and 4 rounds of Brachytherapy is how I started.

Ahhh.... Brachy aka giving birth to a porcupine! My first PET scan showed a few lymph nodes so we kicked it up a spell. This time I lost my hair! No wigs. I rocked it bald! By July I had a clean scan and decided to stop treatment. BIG MISTAKE. I don't think we got the root. I should have finished the last 3 treatments. One year and 2 weeks later I got the call we all dread... my cancer had come back and my oncologist bumped me up to stage 4. Six treatments of Carbo, Taxol, Avastin and Keytruda and I had a huge reaction!! Hello 911! I have the best team because they didn't even flinch and had me breathing again.

Roughly around my 2-year anniversary, in January 2024 I started Tivdak. I just had my 6th treatment and so far so good.

How I felt after treatment: Ask my again in a few months.

What was most difficult for me: Watching my mom has been the most difficult. She took care of my grandma then 2 months later she took early retirement (surgical care charge nurse) in order to keep me alive. I'm very grateful that my grandmother passed because I don't know what my mom would have done.

What I did to help myself: LAUGH! Laughter is key to this game. When the jokes stop, we know something is wrong. Staying positive is all I can do.

My life after cancer: N/A

Where I am today: Today my battle is just trying to survive TIVDAK. The abdominal cramps are horrific!!!!

What I want other women to know: There are options!! Speak up for yourself!!

How I will try to help others: Every day I do my best to keep other's heads up. Support is huge and something as simple as a "good morning", can change someone's day.