How my story begins: I've struggled with irregular bleeding most of my life. After giving birth to my second daughter I started to have irregular paps yearly. I was advised that I had cervical dysplasia. These irregularities would lead to several LEEP procedures. I would check back in but not yearly.
In 2019 I started to have intense back pain and bleeding now with intercourse. My OBGYN would be out for the holidays and I wouldn't be able to be seen until the new year.
2020 and the world comes to a halt. My original appointment was canceled and I wouldn't be seen until June 2020. This time of uncertainty for everyone became even more uncertain for me.
A PET-CT showed a tumor sitting between my cervix and uterine wall. Due to the location of my tumor, a hysterectomy was not an option. I would soon have surgery to prepare me for treatment.
Life before my diagnosis: I was a mother of three daughters, a wife, and I have a fur son. I was working in a field that I liked but not loved. However, the real joy was creating as I am an artesian jewelry designer.
How I felt after diagnosis: I was numb. I heard my doctor reconfirm after I asked him again, " Wait, so I have cancer?"
"Yes, Tiera I'm sorry."
I remember looking at his face and only being able to see his eyes, but they said enough.
Telling my family and friends: Unfortunately cancer wasn't an unfamiliar monster to our family. It had recently effected two other family members and I didn't want to bring another blow to the family.
It was a very difficult time but I was blessed to have an amazing set of friends who really helped us all.
My treatment: I received 36 rounds of radiation, slated for six rounds of chemo, and five brachytherapy treatments. I would have a reaction each time I received chemo. This caused me not to receive my final treatment.
How I felt after treatment: Empowered. My treatment being in the middle of a pandemic, I really had to utilize my voice. I had to show up for me. It gave me a power back within myself.
What was most difficult for me: Doing it alone. I remember walking through the treatment center the first time just wanting someone to sit with me and they couldn't.
What I did to help myself: Being a survivor of sexual assault, I wasn't aware of how certain treatments would reintroduce that trauma. So it was important that I continued my mental health journey, as well as introduced holistic methods of healing. I needed to gain tools to manage my anxiety and keep fighting.
My life after cancer: I tell people cancer was the best worst thing that could have ever happened to me. It taught me to have a voice, that I matter, and get busy living!
Where I am today: For five months after treatment I was able to return back to work full time and resume some of my simple enjoyments. Then in March 2021 I started to have complications walking and in April I started to bleed again. I would eventually receive 40 Hyperbaric treatments to stop the bleeding from my bladder. Over the next few months I would discover radiation had severly effected my bladder and kidneys. I'm trying my best to navigate these new challenges. I'm scheduled for surgery December 2022. To address these issues.
What I want other women to know: Your health is a priority. Listen to your body and find someone in the medical field who listens to you!
How I will try to help others: I want others to be educated and protected against this disease. Change is necessary for growth. I tell anyone now my story! We have to start having conversations open and honestly. I owe it to my daughters to educate them.