Cancerversary: September 2015

Age at diagnosis: 35

Diagnosis: Cervical cancer (unspecified)

Stage of cancer: I

How my story begins: I was a wife and mother of three, working a full time job. I was youth director at my church and very active in my community.

I started experiencing unusual heavy bleeding and pain during sex. It was like I was continuously on my menstrual cycle, but it was totally different. I kept putting my symptoms off on stress, until I started passing blood clots. I then made an appointment with my OBGYN, whom I hadn't seen in 10yrs. After several attempts to do a Pap test (which was unsuccessful), my OB scheduled me for an ultrasound and a biopsy. Two weeks later, he told me that I had cancer.

How I felt after diagnosis: In the beginning, I was upset with myself because I hadn't been to the doctor's. I knew that this was something that I would have to do, and I needed to find strength to do it. I knew that God would see me through. I just needed my children to be fine.

Telling my family and friends: My family is so emotional because cancer has claimed so many of our family members' lives. I told my family that God had me, and that I needed them to look out for my children. The hardest part was telling my children, but they were so strong. They cried a little, but I promised my babies that I would fight!

My treatment: My treatment plan consisted of six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. I went to MD Anderson five days a week for six weeks. On Mondays, I would have four hours of chemotherapy and radiation everyday. Also, I had two internal radiation treatments where I had 44 rounds of radiation inside of me.

How I felt after treatment: On Mondays, I wasn't able to do much, including eating. I would usually push myself to eat. I would be extremely tired.

What was most difficult for me: I would say the most difficult part was not being able to interact with my children. I would miss a lot of their school events. I would be too tired to do anything from Monday through Thursday. By Friday, I would start regaining some strength.

What I did to help myself: I would do a lot of praying and meditation. I would always push myself to do things that I didn't feel like doing.

My life after cancer: Life after cancer can be difficult at times. I've struggled with depression. All I want to do is be my normal self again. It's hard trying to get back to that place. I struggle with neuropathy in my right arm and hand. This is the arm that my IV was placed in for chemo treatments. In the beginning, I would have shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. My treatment also sent my body into menopause, so I deal with those symptoms as well.

Where I am today: I'm still dealing with issues with my right arm and hand. My doctors are still trying to find ways to help me. I continue to go to my follow-up appointments and try to grow stronger everyday.

What I want other women to know: I want women to know that they matter too. As women, we spend so much of our time taking care of our families. We need to start taking care of ourselves as well. It's important that we receive our Pap tests and HPV test. We should also talk to our children's doctors about HPV vaccines.

How I will try to help others: I'm helping others by educating them on Cervical Cancer & HPV. In 2016, I joined the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC). I started my own chapter in my city.