How my story begins: I first noticed something was wrong when my menstrual cycle was going longer than normal, and I began to see clots. That is when I began to worry and just felt something was wrong. I went to my family doctor who prescribed some medicine that would slow down or stop the bleeding, which did not work. After two more visits, I finally began to seek out a GYN. I had moved to a different city in the last few years and hadn’t begun to seek out local practitioners until then. Once I found one, I went in and came to the realization that it had been almost five years since my last PAP. When the doctor began the exam, there was a look. I can remember that look. The tumor was visible, but they still did their tests.
Life before my diagnosis: I was a new mother and trying to work on my career. Felt I had no need to visit a doctor, especially after giving birth.
How I felt after diagnosis: Scared beyond belief. I had a toddler that needed his mother.
My treatment: I began six weeks of daily radiation, six rounds of chemo and three internal radiation treatments. My mother thankfully moved up to stay with me throughout treatment to assist in the caring of my toddler so I could focus on treatment. I felt like my energy was being constantly zapped from me. I did not have a port so my arms and hands had to endure multiple jabs that began resulting in bruising everywhere. I remember my last chemo treatment, I just cried from exhaustion.
How I felt after treatment: I was so mentally and physically exhausted. I was glad to be done but a few months later I began experiencing the side effects of the amount of radiation I received.
What was most difficult for me: The loneliness for sure. Going through Cancer treatments during COVID meant that I had to go to all my appointments alone, covered in a mask, and unable to sit close to anyone else. I escaped into books during treatment days as much as I could. My mother did her best to help but I needed her help with my child more.
My life after cancer: In the months after treatment, I began experiencing side effects of the radiation. Mainly in the location of my kidneys. I also had to come to terms with the fact that I had lost fertility. That was a really hard thought to wrap my head around as I did want to have a second child.
Where I am today: I still feel like I am recovering. I feel like I am a whole different person from who I was prior to cancer. I make sure I am constantly grateful for any time I get with my child, and I have kicked my career path into high gear by trying new experiences I would have been scared to have a few years ago.
What I want other women to know: Do not skip out on your annual exam, no matter if you feel you are fine. Get checked. Period.