How my story begins: My life before my diagnosis was pretty routine. Raising two kids, married to a wonderful man for almost 9 years, taking care of the house and going to work. I was always on the go, from the time I woke up 'til the time I went to bed. I have a very stressful job, so when the kids were in school, I would do some gardening and play with my English Mastiff in the yard. I loved being outside and hated being in the house.
In 2017, I had abnormal vaginal bleeding in between periods so I made an appointment at my gynecologist on 6/26/17. She did a Pap smear and the results came back with mild abnormal cells. She told me to come back in 6 months for a repeat Pap smear and those results came back with moderate to severe abnormal cells. In August, I had a colposcopy and the results came back with CIN3. My gynecologist and I spoke about different treatments that we could do and we agreed on the LEEP procedure, which was done February of 2018.
A week after my LEEP procedure, I woke up around 5:30am to go to the bathroom. I passed a huge blood clot and I had uncontrollable bleeding. I was going through a heavy overnight pad in less than an hour. I called my husband and he came home since we were planning on having to either go to the emergency room or back to my gynecologist. I left a message with my gynecologist and she called me when they opened at 9am. She told me that my results came back and I had cancer and it was adenosquamous carcinoma. I was able to still keep my emotions in check until she said that it's basically two different kInds of cancers. I remember dropping to the floor in my living room and I broke down crying. My husband grabbed the phone from me and talked to my gynecologist who assured him it was a very early stage of cancer and to go see an oncologist as soon as possible.
How I felt after diagnosis: I went through a whole whirlwind of emotions. First, I was scared. Scared for my girls. All I kept thinking was, "Are my girls going to lose their mother?" I cried for days and than I got angry. I was angry at myself, I was angry at anyone who kept bringing it up. Then the depression set in. I wouldn’t get out of bed or eat. I didn’t want to be around anyone. My husband and I decided not to tell our 7 year old since it would just scare her. We did tell our 15 year old daughter and she took it very well. While my husband worked double shifts at work and when my kids were in bed, I was left alone with my insane thoughts. Thank god for my 160 lb English Mastiff. He would just lay in bed with me and let me cuddle with him for hours. It kept me calm and relaxed to have him next to me. He didn’t care that we weren’t going outside to play anymore or to dig up my flowers that I was planting. He knew something was wrong with me and he refused to leave my side for months.
Telling my family and friends: The day I found out I had cancer, it was my sister's birthday. I told my husband not to tell my family until the following day. Bless my husband, he contacted everyone in my family, my friends and my boss.
My treatment: I had a total hysterectomy with both fallopian tubes removed. My oncologist decided not to remove my ovaries due to my age and still needing the hormones to prevent cardiac disease and higher risk of a stroke.
How I felt after treatment: I felt nervous, scared and relief after my treatment.
What was most difficult for me: What was most difficult for me was putting on a brave face for my kids - acting as if nothing was wrong, asking for help from my family when I was too tired to get out of bed.
What I did to help myself: I joined various support groups. I went to my family doctor and told him everything that I was feeling and I started taking an antidepressant.
My life after cancer: My life after cancer has been a struggle. I’m still experiencing severe abdominal pains post-surgery. I still don’t have my energy back. Every ache or pain I freak out thinking maybe the cancer came back.
Where I am today: I had a second surgical procedure that I’m recovering from to find the source of the abdominal pain. My oncologist couldn’t find any scar tissue so he’s going to send me to pain management. I still am fatigued all the time. I struggle to do the basic household chores even though it’s been 5 months since having my hysterectomy. I’m still dealing with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
What I want other women to know: It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be angry and depressed, but don’t ever give up on yourself. Even if your family doesn’t understand what you are going through, there are plenty of other people who do. Find those support groups. You will find wonderful people to lean on and give you the energy you need to keep fighting.
How I will try to help others: Being supportive to anyone who has or is going through cancer. Talk to people on how important education is to prevent cervical cancer.