How my story begins: I was a proud single mother working as a Licensed Vocational Nurse. At the time, I was in an okay relationship.
I went in for cervical cancer screening early in 2014 and they did a Pap and an HPV test -the HPV test came back positive, but that was the norm for me since I had HPV since 2007. But by the end of 2014, I began to have severe pelvic pain that doctors thought was pelvic inflammatory disease. After several trips to the doctor's and the ER over a period of 3 weeks, I went back to my primary for a recheck and that is when he noticed my cervix was literally disintegrating. He immediately sent me to my gynecologist who did a biopsy. Two weeks later, it came back as being cervical cancer.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt relief that at least I was told it was curable. But i was pretty devastated that it had spread and I would have to have chemotherapy and radiation.
Telling my family and friends: The hardest person to tell was my daughter because she was only 9 and the word cancer is just very scary to hear. My mom was obviously devastated. My family rallied around me and helped me through my battle.
My treatment: I had to go to radiation every day for 7 weeks along with four hours of very strong chemotherapy once a week.
I did internal radiation in which I had to be put under general anesthesia once a week for 4 weeks.
How I felt after treatment: I would feel great the day of chemo and the 2 days following because they would give me strong IV nausea medication. But when that wore off, I would be severely sick.
What was most difficult for me: The most difficult part was just feeling so weak, tired and sick. Also, I was in extreme pain. I hated having to take pain medication around the clock until the tumor shrunk enough that I didn't have pain.
What I did to help myself: I would just try to stay positive and surround myself with people who supported me.
My life after cancer: I felt like I had a new lease on life. I dumped the boyfriend I had because I didn't feel like he supported me through my treatment. I was all about doing what makes me happy and not worrying about people and things that don't bring positivity to my life.
I found out that I was postmenopausal due to treatment, which I knew would happen, but it's still shocking at the age of 28. I also determined that I didnt have any thyroid function, which was also probably due to treatment.
Where I am today: Today I have been cancer free for 4 years. I am still a proud single mother working the same job as a nurse. I now have a loving boyfriend who lost his mother to cancer the same time I was diagnosed, so we have love and understanding.
What I want other women to know: I just want other women to make sure to get your regular pap and HPV tests and just listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, make sure to tell doctors and make sure everything is checked.
How I will try to help others: Since I am a pediatric nurse, I share my story a lot when talking about the importance of the HPV vaccine.
Any additional information you'd like to share: Cervical cancer has definitely been the hardest thing I have ever been through, but I feel like it was something I had to go through to realize my own strength.