Cancerversary: February 2021

Age at diagnosis: 31

Diagnosis: Adenocarcinoma

Stage of cancer: IB2

How my story begins: After my son Jude was born, I went for my routine Pap smear. A month after that appointment I got a call saying I had abnormal cells. I then got sent to the colposcopy clinic here in Hamilton. After 16 months, 3 biopsies and a LEEP procedure, I got the call on October 29, 2020 and heard the words," You have adenocarcinoma of the cervix."

Life before my diagnosis: I was a healthy young woman wanting to start a family. I’ve been married to my husband for five years and gave birth to my beautiful baby boy Jude just over a month before my 30th birthday. I was dancer, relatively active and enjoyed time with my friends and family. My mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma a year before I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

How I felt after diagnosis: Lost.

I got the call when I was at work. I had to leave and go straight home to tell my husband. Through tears I got it out. The thing is, with being told you have cancer, they don’t tell you anything else…. I didn’t know the severity of it, I didn’t know treatment, all I knew was I was being sent to Juravinski Cancer Centre to be assigned to an oncologist.

I was scared, scared to leave my baby boy (who was just over a year old at this point) scared to tell my mom, mad at God, mad at myself … all my emotions were taking over me.

Telling my family and friends: Telling my husband through my tears was the easy part. He held me, told me not to go into a spiral until after my tests and we know the next steps.

I didn’t want to tell my mom. She had just gone through six months of chemo, then a high dose of chemo and a stem cell transplant. Her hair was just starting to grow back and she was finally starting to live life as normal as she could. I didn’t want to burden her with the news that her 31 year old daughter now has cancer.

Both my parents were upset. They watched my mom battle her cancer (which is ongoing, no cure) and my uncle had just passed away in July from cancer as well. My brother also just had surgery to remove cancer.

Telling my best friends was also hard. To put it simply, when all you know is the word cancer and no other information, it’s hard to tell people as you can’t have a positive spin on it, because you just DO NOT KNOW!

My treatment: I had an MRI and CT Scan and chest X-ray. Luckily the tumour was small so I was given two options:

1. Radical Trachelectomy
2. Radical Hysterectomy

I was only 31, I had one baby, I wanted more. I decided on a radical trachelectomy. This is considered a rare surgery here in Canada and I was lucky enough that one surgeon in my city would be able to do it. I had my cervix, vagina wall and lymphnodes removed through a vaginal surgery. The lymphnodes were removed through laparoscopic. I had to sign a waiver saying if they find cancer in my uterus, then I gave them permission to take it out.

This was a day surgery, in at 8am - out of surgery by noon - home by 6pm that day.

How I felt after treatment: Healing from surgery sucks! I had a catheter in for a week, that was actually probably the most depressing part of healing.

I woke up not knowing how the surgery went and a scar right across my pelvic bone. This made me wonder; do I still have my uterus??

My husband told me when he picked me up that the surgery went according to plan and I did in fact, have no cervix but my uterus was still intact.

What was most difficult for me: Knowing how cancer consumed my family, I wasn’t ready to face those battles.

I know this is a bit touchy subject with our type of cancer, but I was scared I won’t be able to have anymore kids. Now I have a uterus, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to conceive, stay pregnant or have a healthy baby. There are a lot of complications.

However, I think the most difficult was the unknown … I didn’t know what was going to happen, and that makes it very difficult for the mind.

What I did to help myself: It was during lockdown so usually I would have visited my friends, but instead it had to be Zoom parties. I held onto my son as often as I could. Had a million baths because I knew I wouldn’t be able to after surgery. Talked with my mom.

Found Cervivor - the best thing was being apart of this community.

My life after cancer: I am now seven months post surgery. Life will never be “normal” as there is always the “what if it comes back”

Where I am today: I am a student and I’m about two months away from graduating from HR Management.

I am the co-chair for the Hamilton Multiple Myeloma Cancer March, a fundraiser to create awareness and help fund research, and I’m trying to create awareness for cervical cancer.

My baby boy is beautiful and I cherish everyday with my family!

What I want other women to know: Get your Pap smears done, don’t be afraid to be your biggest advocate, and see your family doctor as regularly as you can. Anything seems off - talk about it! Get your Gardasil vaccine!

How I will try to help others: I am attending a conference to learn how to advocate for cervical cancer through online presence. I’m consistently telling my friends that I had zero symptoms so keep going to your paps!

I will continue to advocate to help prevent this awful cancer.

Any additional information you'd like to share: Don’t think “oh, this will never happen to me” because it can!