Melissa P.

Location: Edmonton, Canada

Cancerversary: November 2015

Age at diagnosis: 44

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: III

How my story begins: One morning in February 2015, I noticed I was bleeding. I never bleed outside my normal period. I did some research on the Internet and thought maybe I'm going through early menopause. It got worse. So I did more research. I thought uterine fibroids and made an appointment with my doctor in early April. She also suggested uterine fibroids and we scheduled an ultrasound and she did a Pap test. By then the bleeding was constant and heavy and I had unbearable pain in my back. As the pain got worse I did more research and flagged cervical cancer, which I mentioned to my doctor at my next visit. I had abnormal Pap results and she agreed I could have cancer. Then the ultrasound showed a large mass and I was sent for a colposcopy. During the biopsy, the oncologist confirmed I had a "big cancer" and I would be going to radiation and chemo, no surgery. When the biopsy results came back, the oncologist called to confirm the results and I was scheduled for a PET scan and MRI. The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and I had Stage 3B cervical cancer. This was at the end of May.

Life before my diagnosis: As a manager at a construction company, I was working a lot and I was always away from home. I have two grown children who I raised as a single mom.

How I felt after diagnosis: I don't know how I felt. I already knew what I was in for with all my research. I guess I was scared. But I could not believe I had such an advanced cancer because I was always healthy and then one day I just wasn't.

Telling my family and friends: That was the hard part. I had been going for tests and kept my friends in the loop but finally telling my family was difficult. Only a few months before, my uncle had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and my mom passed from pancreatic cancer 8 years ago. So, for my family and me, cancer and death go hand in hand.

My treatment: In mid June, I finally started treatment - radiation 5 days a week for 5 weeks and cisplatin once a week for 5 weeks. Then I was at the Cross Cancer for PDR internal brachytherapy for 58 hours.

How I felt after treatment: After treatment, I was tired. I was worried it didn't work. I didn't lose my hair nor did I get sick from the chemo. It all seemed too "easy." But I was excited to get back to work.

What was most difficult for me: It was tough to be away from work. It was also really hard to have to rely on my family. But the hardest part was probably worrying my dad.

What I did to help myself: I did a lot of research. I also made sure I rested when I needed to. Then I took advantage of the time off work after treatment and took a couple of trips.

My life after cancer: My life right now is back to normal - like I was never sick. I still tire out faster than normal and have a few small side effects from the radiation. But I feel great. I am in full menopause but it has not affected me too badly.

Where I am today: I'm hopeful. But I am still worried.

What I want other women to know: Get your Pap test. I hadn't seen a doctor in 13 years. That was a big mistake.

How I will try to help others: I share as much as I can on Facebook. I am not shy about my story and I tell anyone who wants to know.

Any additional information you'd like to share: After this, I sent my 20 year old daughter to the doctor and told her to get her HPV vaccination, which she did.