How my story begins: The kids and I had been traveling the U.S. with my husband at the time and it was about six years since my last Pap test. I had noticed some bleeding and pain off and on. I scheduled my Pap and the doctor said it was abnormal but not to worry that they would repeat the test in six months.
I begged them to go ahead and do a colposcopy because I truly felt like something was wrong and that cancer had already started. She set me up for an ultrasound first which showed what appeared to be a uterine fibroid. Though the doctor disagreed with me that is was cancer, she agreed to do the colposcopy. She was not successful in doing the colposcopy as there was a tumor higher up in the cervix that was blocking.
I was then diagnosed within 48 hours and at an oncologists office within 72 hours. Unfortunately for me there is no gynecological oncologist in my city and mine is two hours away. After a thorough exam, PET scan and MRI I was diagnosed with a 5 cm tumor and staged at IB2. I had adenocarcinoma. My diagnosing gynecologist said that she learned something and would definitely listen to her patient's intuitions more.
I’m so grateful to her that she listened and didn’t put me off. She even gave me free counseling sessions in office during treatments with the oncologist.
Life before my diagnosis: I was a 33 year old mom of two.
How I felt after diagnosis: I was devastated. You hear the "C" word and you immediately think you’re going to die. All I could think was that my children are so young. Lord, I’m not ready to go.
Telling my family and friends: I couldn’t even put it to words I just broke down crying. I confirmed to them what I thought was true, that is was cancer. We were all scared.
My treatment: I had four rounds of Cisplatin chemo. I was supposed to have six but I didn’t tolerate it well and my oncologist called the chemo doctor and said no more. I had 25 external radiations and six Brachytherapy. I was lucky that my tumor was responding immediately.
How I felt after treatment: I just felt numb. I now had PTSD and I lost the ability to have more children. I was in pain and scarred up from the radiation. So very tired.
What was most difficult for me: The mental turmoil along with not tolerating treatments well was difficult for me. Also, seeing the sadness on my friends, kids and families face was hard. I was also the youngest person in the infusion center and I had to do all of my treatments alone because my husband worked out of town made this all difficult.
What I did to help myself: I prayed. Every day.
My life after cancer: My life after cancer is menopause, hormone patches and pain; constantly wondering if the cancer will come back. I still feel like I’m serving a sentence even at 38 years old.
Where I am today: I'm still trying to realize I survived and to keep living. Cancer pauses you and you’re convinced you have no future. I’m just trying to live like I have a future now.
What I want other women to know: That it's okay. We aren’t ruined, gross or diseased. We were simply unlucky. I would like to offer support to women so that they don’t suffer like I did and not to forget that we do have a life to live. Life after cancer is hard and can cause PTSD. I’m an open book and I have plenty to share.
How I will try to help others: I will help others by telling my story and relating to others. Get rid of the stigma. My husband ended up leaving me over the treatments. He said that I was so irresponsible that I picked up HPV at some point, that IT HAD to have come from somewhere else.