How my story begins: I was a busy realtor and a military reservist. I had been procrastinating on completing my Master's Degree, and took a lot of life for granted. I guess, overall, I was a bit lazy, but otherwise healthy.
I had an abnormal Pap in 1996, but my colposcopy was fine. My Pap every year since was fine, or so I thought. In September 2017, it was abnormal. I had a colposcopy in Oct 2017, with a diagnosis the following week. Prior to my PET scan, the same week of surgery, I looked online for blood test results, and found a Pap test from 2015, not normal - and it had never been followed up on by my then doctor (yes - medical board complaint filed). Thank goodness I switched doctors! Crazy! My gynecologist, who is amazing, referred me out to my local oncologist/gynecologist. My husband and I were wondering where to travel to for the best care, until we found out we had one of the best doctors in the world!
How I felt after diagnosis: I was scared, anxious, angry! I was frustrated waiting for the oncologist to call for my appointment. All I could think about was Joey Feek - may she rest in peace. That was reality to me.
Telling my family and friends: I told my kids and parents right away with tears. My husband was away on business, and I had to tell him over the phone. That was awful for me. Luckily, my commander, who is an OB/GYN, made me feel a bit better. He tried to reassure me that it would be okay when I called to tell him I would be unavailable for a bit. My husband and I had interesting conversations. We all know we will go at some point, and God has his plans as my husband says. But I was far from ready, still am.
My treatment: I had a radical hysterectomy on November 9th, 2017. My lymph nodes, fallopian tubes, and ovaries were removed. Pathology was all clear, and margins were fantastic. My doctor told me I was a textbook case, and they were teaching that day. I am glad that I could help. I did have a reaction to Zofran, and thought I was having a stroke that night. I think overall, they just overdid it on the anesthesia. But I am a lightweight, so who knows?!
How I felt after treatment: Depressed and lonely. I had to come home with a catheter, and for three weeks, I couldn’t pass the bladder challenge. And of course, I had no clothes to accommodate a bag in our winter climate. And a leg bag is not nearly enough. Thanksgiving was a trip to the ER, as well as the following week, and then to urgent care. UTIs, a head cold/flu, and the stomach flu all took its toll on my body for the first 8 weeks after treatment.
What was most difficult for me: My husband travels a lot. My kids have all grown and moved out. So it was pretty lonely. I think about recurrence often, and all the commercials for St. Jude just tear my heart apart. Sitting alone, angry and depressed, is not a good thing for mental health.
What I did to help myself: I learned to pray again, not just for myself, but for everyone and everything. God became my best friend in this most challenging time. The last 20 or so years of my life have been extremely challenging and stressful, and I had stopped having faith.
My life after cancer: I have decided to not let the small things bug me as much anymore, and things I was procrastinating on, well, not an issue anymore. I have started classes to finish my Master of Public Health to give back to the community. I decided to buy that new car that I had been thinking about for years, and we finally got my husband a recliner (wish I had that after surgery). I look at the colors of the world in a new way, and appreciate each day I am given, and hope that I have many more. And of course, I have faith, and God is by my side.
Where I am today: I am cancer free, catheter free, and learning what menopause is like.
What I want other women to know: Cancer is a word, not a sentence (not sure where I heard that, but its fantastic). You have every right to feel how you do, be it scared or happy. Don't let Cancer be your life, only part of it - what my Cervivor friend told me, who had 0% chance of recovery/survivability. A good attitude, faith (in whatever your beliefs are), family, and good friends are all that matter in life.
How I will try to help others: I tell everyone to get their exams, or remind the women in their lives to get their exams ANNUALLY.
Any additional information you'd like to share: Get your kids vaccinated!