How my story begins: I was a young and vibrant woman in my early 20s. At the age of 22, my daughter was born. I had a natural and healthy pregnancy and delivery. I was healthy and active with no signs of medical concerns.
In 2008, I experienced a miscarriage. Following the miscarriage, I was unable to conceive thus leading to consulting a gynecologist. I experienced extreme unintentional weight loss and irregular menstrual cycles.
In March 2009, I underwent my first of two laparoscopic outpatient surgeries removing the endometrial polyps from my uterus and bladder. I had the second laparoscopic surgery in August. Early 2010, I went to see my gynecologist again because I could not handle the pain any longer. I wanted to talk about more testing and other medical options. Meanwhile, all of my Pap tests were normal and the endometriosis was not showing new growth. So I could not understand why the extreme pain. The pain was so severe that I couldn’t get out of bed without pain medication, especially during my menstrual week.
On July 13, 2010, I underwent a radical abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy walking into instant menopause. A week later, I went to my gynecologist for a post-surgery follow-up. Pathology result – Cervical Cancer…Adenocarcinoma in situ, which is stage 0-1 where the cancerous cells have not spread outside of the primary organ yet. He told me that he was glad that I opted for the surgery. The cancer cells were rapidly grow. The cancer would have progressed to stage 4 within 6-9 months. My hysterectomy saved my life!
Telling my family and friends: I remember the day my gynecologist informed me that my pathology results determined it was cancer. I walked out of the exam room and I was blank. My dad was in the waiting room and I walked to him saying, “He said it was cancer.” I did not even think twice that other people were in the room or what I was saying to my dad. I was numb and shocked – it just came out. We drove home in silence and there I told my mom.
My treatment: A radical abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy. I was placed on the estrogen patch, cream and One a Day Menopause Supplements for hormone supplements. After the first year, I was permanently placed on estrogen medication.
What was most difficult for me: There are different areas of difficulty. For the past nine years, I have battled survivor guilt. I struggled realizing that my hysterectomy WAS my cancer treatment. I battled grief acceptance when losing close friends or family members. When my daughter was younger, she would beg for a sibling without understanding why that was impossible.
Where I am today: Today, I am a SURVIVOR! A WARRIOR!! I am still NED (No Evidence of Disease)! I see my gynecologist once a year for screening and a wellness check. I am entering my ninth year cancer free. I am a strong advocate for educating women on the importance of HPV vaccinations and wellness exams to prevent cervical cancer to the best of their abilities.
What I want other women to know: Ladies, please, please let your annual well woman exam be the one appointment you never cancel. Cancer does not discriminate. Regardless of your sexual history or partner preference – whether you’re sexually active, if you’re in menopause or whatever your sexual orientation is – you still need to schedule a wellness check annually! I wish there had been someone to educate me on HPV prevention and vaccinations. If you feel there is something wrong with your body, go see your doctor. If you are not satisfied, seek second or third opinions. No one knows your body better than you do! Please don’t put it off. It can save your life!
How I will try to help others: I want to share information on HPV, cervical cancer and the importance of annual gynecological exams.
Any additional information you'd like to share: I hope that my story helps inspire, encourage, support and save lives! It has taken me years to finally realize that I can use my survivor story to help educate other women. Remember, regardless of your Cervical Cancer story, you are not alone! Together we can beat this! #TealLife #Cervivor #EndcervicalCancer