Michelle Helene

Cancerversary: March 2011

Age at diagnosis: 23

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: II

How my story begins: I was just getting my college degree and enjoying youth and my family. I had just moved to another part of the country to start fresh. I needed a fresh start because of ex-boyfriends, parents divorcing, and college bullying.

I had been having irregular bleeding, and a lot of pain for awhile. Every time I contacted my doctor, he said it was only normal menstrual pains, and wouldn't see me. This went on for about 6 months until I turned 23 (in Denmark, doctors have to see you for a Pap smear at this age) so my doctor could no longer say no. So I got the smear, had to wait for the results, got the results late November 2010 and my dr. emphasized that it was only HPV and not cancer. He kept repeating that. Then I had to go to the gynecologist and there was a waiting list, and I couldn't get an appointment until 2 of January 2011. The gynecologist immediately said that it didn't look too good, so he put a rush on the tests. The 8th of January 2011, I got the results that I had cervical cancer stage 2b.

How I felt after diagnosis: After the diagnosis I was sad, and kinda felt shocked and in disbelief. Because the gynecologist had called me on my way home from college to come by, I kinda already felt it was bad. And therefore I was in there getting the news alone. And I kinda don't remember much after that. It's all kinda a blur, and i'm not even sure how I got home. I think I walked.

Telling my family and friends: On my way home, I called my dad and just started balling. I was a mess. But I tried to keep it together, and my dad was amazing. He kept calm, and talked me through it and asked if I wanted him to come over. But I lived with my mom at this point, and thought that was fine. So when I got home I told her, and she broke down. So I kinda just had to keep strong and power through for her. And then I called my closest friends one by one. They all supported me and were amazing.

My treatment: My treatment went pretty fast. By the 23rd of march 2011, I was done with 25 radiation treatments (2 internal) and 7 chemo treatments. I had surgery to get my lymph nodes checked for spreading, and thankfully there weren't any. But they didn't remove my cervix or uterus.

How I felt after treatment: For me, it wasn't hard going through the treatment. Getting the treatment, I always said that I didn't feel as ill as well I was. And I didn't feel as ill to get this rough treatment. I always tried to let the treatment be a good thing, and kinda felt empowered. But it did hit me hard with side effects from time to time. But fully done with the treatment I just felt done, and healthy for about 6 months.

What was most difficult for me: The hardest thing for me was to accept that I was never able to have my own biological children. I have struggled with that a lot. Also I struggled with the fact that I felt fine and all of a sudden about 6 months later, I started to feel the mental struggle, and the damages/side effects hitting me. Since then, I have struggled a lot with my damages and chronic pains.

What I did to help myself: I just tried powering through, getting support from friends and family. It wasn't until 2013 or 2014 that I had some help from a psychologist and some more help for my now chronic damages/pains.

My life after cancer: Since then I have been happy that I'm alive, but still struggling with all the chronic damages/pains from my cancer treatment. I have been trying to find myself, who I am now, after the cancer and being chronically ill. Thankfully, after it all, I also found my boyfriend and he has been an amazing support for me during all this. We have both had our issues sexually and just because me being ill has taken its toll.

Where I am today: I am fighting to be approved for something called flexjob, which means working the hours I can. For me, it would be 8 hours a week, and still getting paid for a full-time job. And then, I can try to figure out what I can and cannot do with my pains.

What I want other women to know: Remember to have your Pap and HPV tests, and regular examinations. If you feel like something is wrong, insist on being seen. Don't let them talk you out of a test.

How I will try to help others: I am trying to help other by sharing my story, and answering whatever questions anyone has for me. I write my blog as well and update there and on IG and Facebook about my life.