How my story begins: In 2014, I lost my husband to a rare form of lymphoma. In 2015, I moved to a small coastal town and took care of my 90 year old mother. In 2016, my mother, my brother and my nephew passed away. I had been focusing on other people and finally had time to focus on myself.
After my mother, died I started seeing my primary care nurse practitioner for a rash that wouldn't go away and also abdominal pain. She and a dermatologist I saw were pretty certain I had lupus because of high ANA numbers from my blood tests. I made an appointment with a rheumatologist who couldn't see me for 3 months. The nurse practitioner thought i probably had diverticulitis because of the severe pain I had in my left lower abdomen. I made an appointment with a G.I. doctor who couldn't see me for three weeks. I decided to see my doctors in southern California where I was an established patient. My GYN and my G.I. saw me immediately. I had a colonoscopy and a Pap smear two years before so I felt pretty certain everything was OK. My GYN did a Pap that didn't show anything. Then she sent me for an ultrasound, which also didn't show anything. Then she sent me for an MRI, which showed a tumor the size of a small orange bulging into my rectum. I decided I wanted to be seen at a large hospital and my G.I. gave me the name of an oncologist at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
How I felt after diagnosis: I couldn't believe it. I had always been diligent with my check-ups. How could I possibly have Stage 4 cervical cancer, which I thought was one of the easiest cancers to detect if you have regular Pap tests?
Telling my family and friends: My children lost their father to cancer and it was tough on them to hear I had stage 4. It was somewhat of a relief to hear that it was stage 4a and not 4b. They, along with my brother, sister-in-law, extended family and friends, were so supportive and encouraged me to fight.
My treatment: The treatment was difficult. Five weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, a one week break and then inpatient brachytherapy for 5 days. The fatigue and nausea were overwhelming.
How I felt after treatment: Depressed and fatigued. I had a hard time believing i was going to get my strength back and feel normal again.
What was most difficult for me: The fatigue and nausea.
What I did to help myself: I kept pushing myself to get up out of bed and try to do things on my own. I stayed with my brother and sister-in-law. They were my biggest cheerleaders and encouraged me every step of the way.
My life after cancer: I was informed last week that I am in remission. I feel that there is still so much I need to learn about stage 4, but i feel great physically and mentally.
Where I am today: I just celebrated my 60th birthday!, I am trying to live life to the fullest. My daughter is engaged to be married so I am having fun planning a wedding.