How my story begins: I got married to my husband in 2016, so we had been married for about 1-1/2 years, still in that honeymoon phase. I'm a really active person - I love rock climbing, snowboarding, camping, hiking, paddle boarding. I was healthy and had no symptoms.
In August 2017, I went in for my routine physical and was due for a Pap test. I had never missed one. My doctor said they found abnormal cells and told me to see my gynecologist. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with HPV. A colposcopy and a LEEP biopsy was done and revealed I had severe squamous dysplasia (DIN-3, HSIL) and adenocarcinoma in situ. My gynecologist recommended a cone biopsy that would hopefully remove all of it. I had my cone biopsy done in January. Unfortunately, they found that I had early invasive endocervical adenocarcinoma...Stage 1 Cervical cancer
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt really numb. I didn't ask many questions and left the doctor's office feeling numb. Three days later, I felt like it was the end of the world. My mind started running all over the place and worst case scenarios were all I could think of. I was really worried because I hadn't had children yet and really wanted them.
Telling my family and friends: It was really difficult for me to tell my family and friends, mostly because I don't like people to worry about me. I was always someone who cared for other people, so it was difficult to be the person on the receiving end.
My treatment: I had one LEEP biopsy and two cone biopsies between November 2017 and April 2018. Thankfully, the last biopsy removed all of the cancer. The reason for doing a cone biopsy instead of a hysterectomy was to preserve my ability to have children. The plan so far is to have routine screenings every 3 months from now on.
How I felt after treatment: I felt so relieved to be cancer free! It's a great feeling and a huge weight off our shoulders. My gyno-oncologist was concerned that if the cancer came back, it meant a hysterectomy. After receiving the great news of being cancer free, she suggested we try to have children within the year.
What was most difficult for me: Telling people that I had cancer.
What I did to help myself: I started seeing a therapist very early on in my diagnosis. It really helped me sort out my emotions and figure out how to deal with anxiety.
Where I am today: It has only been one week since I am officially cancer free. I was put on a 5 lb lift restriction after my last cone biopsy for one month. I am in the process of getting myself back into shape. I want to be ready for whatever comes next.
What I want other women to know: It's not your fault. You are strong and we are here for you. Reach out and talk to someone about it. You shouldn't go through it alone.
How I will try to help others: I'd really love to educate people about HPV and cervical cancer. I feel that it isn't spoken about enough in the open, almost like it's shameful. I'd love to spread awareness and educate everyone on it. I'm definitely more open and able to tell people about my cancer diagnosis now than I was when I was first diagnosed.