Location: Alabama

Cancerversary: July 2004

Age at diagnosis: 29

Diagnosis: Cervical Carcinoma in Situ (CIS)

Stage of cancer: No stage specified

How my story begins: My story may be different than some of you, but I must share. For years I lived with an irregular menstrual cycle or not having one at all with abnormal pap tests. The only suggestion was to put me on birth control to try to regulate my cycle or to make me have one. The strength of my birth control was changed numerous times, but it still didn’t work. After trying that for the year it was suggested that I get the Depo-Provera shot and I did. I was on that shot for over 5 years and for those years I didn’t have a menstrual cycle at all. Keep in mind that every year, I was still receiving abnormal Pap tests.

Then I got married and wanted to extend my family, so I stopped getting the Depo-Provera shot hoping that I would have a normal cycle and get pregnant. That didn’t happen and I started noticing my pelvis would hurt a lot on my left side and I would discharge blood clots for some months, and then I wouldn’t see any kind of blood. It came to one point where I would wear protection daily to keep from being embarrassed because I never knew if something would show up. No one ever explained in depth what it meant to continue getting these abnormal Pap tests and what would happen if they continued being abnormal. So, my abnormal became normal for me.

Life before my diagnosis: I was a single mom enrolled in a community college trying to make a better living for my family. Taking a vacation at least twice a year and I was a newlywed.

How I felt after diagnosis: I was very scared and cried so hard after I received the call at work stating the results of my biopsy and that my gynecologist needed to talk to me and my husband immediately. I didn't know what to expect because for over 10 years having abnormal pap test, I never got a call at work or home. And then after having a night where I was bleeding heavy and thinking I was having a miscarriage and I wasn't, that's what led to the biopsy. So, yes I was very scared.

Telling my family and friends: I never told my family and the only thing my mom knew was I was having a hysterectomy. I am very protective of my mom, and she had some heart issues, so I wasn't going to scare her. I decided to keep what I was going through with my husband and wait to see if I was going to need additional treatment. That was the worst decision I could have made because after the surgery I went into a depression mode. I felt like my womanhood had been taken away and I had no say in it. I know I couldn't extend my family and mentally I was not able to connect emotionally to my young son. I ended up being prescribed Zoloft to help me with my depression.

My treatment: My treatment was a hysterectomy.

How I felt after treatment: I was depressed and felt like my womanhood had been taken away.

What was most difficult for me: The healing process was difficult for some reason my body wasn't healing as they anticipated and I was going through it alone.

What I did to help myself: I decided I wanted to be the best mother I could be and that's when I decided I would stop taking anything for my depression, so I started depending on my spiritual side. I started reading spiritual and healing books.

My life after cancer: I'm 50 years old and God is now allowing me to finally tell my story after 20 years.

Where I am today: I happy to say I'm now employed with the Alabama Department of Public Health as the Outreach Coordinator for the Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Where I'm able to share my story and also help educate women on the importance of getting screened and that this disease is PREVENTABLE!!!!!

What I want other women to know: I want all ladies to know that getting screened is very important and there is life after cancer and having an abnormal Pap test doesn't mean you have cancer. Lastly, cervical cancer is preventable. And their story can help other ladies cope with life after experiencing cancer or the scare of it. Our bodies are ours and we must take care of it.

How I will try to help others: I'm able to share my story and also help educate women on the importance of getting screened and that this disease is PREVENTABLE!!!!!